1 February 2017
Yesterday I finished a 2½ year project that had been almost twenty years in the making. The First Delegation of US Tradeswomen to India is complete. The Boston delegates, Kathleen, Linda and Shamaiah are home by now. The Midwest girls, Beth, Kelly and Marcus are on route. Edwina from Minnesota is over the Arctic someplace. Holly and Dee are on their way to California. We dropped Noreen off in Pondicherry on Monday and Diane and Willa will spend another two weeks in the Indian south.
I am home in Bombay, in my dorm room at the Tata Institute. My roommate, Mirjam from Switzerland, is away doing fieldwork. She’ll be happy when she returns because Vrishali, the 7th floor housekeeper, and I cleaned the screens and windows this morning. Now the windows can be opened without filling the room with dust. I wish Mirjam was here but I have completely taken over the room and my stuff is everywhere. I am sorting clothes and receipts and research materials and gifts received and to be given.
As I wrap up this project and my last two weeks in India, my personal goal is to let go of the state of high alert and mid-level anxiety with which I have lived now for a long time. It was a big job. I went to the evening yoga class here on campus last night. I was late but I went and I will go again tonight. And I had a good start this morning when two things went wrong and then went right again.
One of the delegates (you know who you are!) brought her contribution to our common funding account in a fistful of US dollars—not usable in India. Two weeks ago, I stashed the bucks away to be added to the account later. While we were visiting four cites, staying in multiple and highly varied accommodations, traveling by plane, taxi, rickshaw and on foot and meeting hundreds of people, I forgot where I put the stash. The longer I could not find it, the surer I was that it had been stolen out of my luggage on one of our three flights around India. I beat myself up all morning that I had put it in an unlocked bag. Then I found it. Relief and joy. It will be added to our delegation fund. All will be accounted for, the books will be reconciled and the financial part of this endeavor will be closed.
Shortly after that relief set in, I realized that I had I washed my laundry in sugar. I had two plastic bags, one with laundry soap and another with sugar. I can’t find the laundry soap. I realized this when I went looking for sugar for my tea. Everything is rinsed. If I start attracting bugs, I will wash it all again. For now, I can’t go anywhere because all my clothes – except the socks which I have not needed since the winter days in Delhi–are wet and hanging.
I have a lot of work ahead in the next few weeks to catch up on reporting on the trip and to write my final report for Fulbright. It was very difficult to keep up with the blog while we were traveling and working. Luckily, the delegates took lots of pictures and recorded the trip on our whatsapp and facebook pages. It is all there and now I have to document it for the ages. I was also negligent in keeping our funders up to date on our Go Fund Me page and I will be rectifying that beginning today.
It was a big idea. A good idea but bigger than I anticipated. The results for the future- as you will see if you continue to follow upcoming reports—are somewhat vague and unsure. We did not produce an action plan. That was also true in 1995 when the first transnational group of tradeswomen met in Beijing. Perhaps it will be decades again before women working in construction meet across borders. Perhaps it will be sooner. But relationships were built, knowledge was shared and ideas were created. Of such things, change can happen.
Stay tuned for more.
Love and peace,