Saturday, 14 April 2007

A Danish Factory and Some Social Projects

Still with Margrethe's travel group it was time to go beyond traditional sightseeing. So we visited a Danish company in India and lots of different social development projects.

This is the great production hall of the Indian branch of Danish Grundfos. The company has a very green profile and has made their Indian buildings to consume as little power as necessary. They produce pumps here.

A worker operates one of the may advanced machines.

The whole group. It is probably evident that I was pulling down the average age by a couple of years, but that didn't really matter. I enjoyed myself with these people, and they seemed to accept me also. In many ways I'm not used to traveling in large groups and of course it does mean sacrificing some freedom. But on the other hand it does give access to experiences that would be hard to get on your own such as this industrial visit and the social projects below. And it was also fun being able to share a bit of the knowledge about India I have acquired over the last year and a half with someone seeing India with fresh - and sometimes mystified - eyes.

One of the many social projects. This is a school for poor slum children. As you can see they are many in a class and they sit on the floor. They are taught English amongst other subjects, but most of the learning consists in repeating sentences spoken by the teacher (who herself was less than fluent in English) and then memorizing it. There is very little emphasis on learning sentence construction and conversation skills, and consequently the kids could address us with several complete English sentences, but would have no idea what a simple question such as "What is your name?" means.

A step down in age, this is the Kindergarden. The kids seem happy enough, and did a cute little sang in Tamil for us. But there are just so very many in a quite small concrete room, which smells of urine.

Later we went to an orphanage. Here I am with some of the boys. Some of them seem happy and curious, whereas others seem very damaged and introvert. It is the first type of boys you see here.

This is the temporary housing set up for hundreds, if not thousands, of families after the terrible tsunami of December 2004. Each door represents one familiy's home consisting of nothing but one tiny room, with a single light bulb in the middle. It may not look so bad now, but in the monsoon season this whole place turns into one huge puddle of mud and sewage. Very unhealthy. It was never supposed to be more than a temporary place for these families, but here two and a half years later they still live there.

A couple of local girls have gotten their hands on some candy and are enjoying intensely.

Some tsunami survivors living in the temporary housing area.

Another two survivors. The child must have been an infant when the tsunami struck.

A nice little poster showing with great illustrations how to deal correctly with a number of disasters and health issues. Getting people the right information about these matters is a very big part of any social improvement efforts. A couple of places in India I have also seen the use of street theatre groups as a means of spreading awareness of for instance the HIV-risk (India has more HIV-infected people than any other country in the world).

Margrethe shows pictures to a number of curious kids.

In India you see incredibly many streets signs everywhere. Some of are quite creative and others just bizarre, such as this one advertising beef. What are those buff wrestlers doing there???

Let me finish my series of pictures from Madras with something of great beauty. Some central towers of the Chennai High Court. It is a very impressing building to say the least.


Paleli said...

Hi Esben,
Thank you for your interesting blog with beautiful photos. I visit it regularly to check out what you're up to.
How did you decide to go to India in the first place, if I may ask? Are you studying.. or have you been at University there?

The picture of you and the boys in the orphanage is quite adorable.

Greetings from Finland. Just know that you are living my dream!

Esben said...

Hi Paleli,

Thanks for your comment. To answer your question: When I first went to India it was because I was lucky enough to be offered a position as intern at the Danish Embassy here in New Delhi. After completing that 6-month internship I travelled India for 2 months before returning home to Denmark. However, I quickly realised that I wanted to go back, so I planned to write my thesis in India which is what I am doing now. Since the topic of my thesis is Indian Foreign Policy it does make complete sense to do it here.

If this is your dream Paleli, then you should just go. Except for those people who have obligations to their family, it is often just a lack of imagination that keeps people from taking a plunge such as this. By the way I have several Finish friends here, so your country is well represented already.

Paleli said...

So nice of you. Maybe I had a feeling you might not want to answer, but I was so wrong.

Really, you got Finnish friends there? O wait a second - I remember once seeing a picture of some Finnish guy(s) in your blog.

I spent 6 weeks in Kerala/Tamil Nadu last summer. When I came back home I had the same feeling of "I want to go back". Everything just seemed flat here. Many of the colors were gone. As were all the smells and sounds (eh, noise?). People even have a different way of walking in India.

I will make it there someday! And if it is a day when you are still there, I will find you and say hi.


Esben said...

Hi again. So you have been bitten by the India bug too! Do let me know when you make it here, whether as a tourist or a more permanent expat. We have a good little Nordic expat community here.