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Blogs from Abroad

Blogs from Santa Clara University students studying abroad.

The following postings have been filtered by tag Brigitte Clark (India). clear filter
  •  Red Alert

    Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010 12:00 AM

    The month of September has been one of the most apprehensive months I have experienced since arriving in India.  It felt like one issue after the other has presented itself, and threw people into a constant state of fear.  On September 11, many were afraid that if Pastor Jone’s went through with his plan and burned Korans, then American would not be safe from angry, rioting mobs.  Then on September 19, there was a shooting at the Jama Masjid in Delhi, injuring two Taiwanese tourists.  It has also been speculated that a possible terrorist attack will happen during the Common Wealth Games, sending people into to a state of panic for this upcoming event.

    Most recently, the feeling that we are not safe, again, resurfaced when India was put on red alert due to the Ayodhya debate in Uttar Pradesh.For over 60 years there has been an ongoing case on who this plot of land belonged to because this was the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram, and later the site of the Babri Mosque built by the Mughal emperor Babur.  The question of whether a previous Hindu temple was demolished or modified to create the mosque was debated.  Many feared that whichever side won the plot of land, the other would revolt.

    Extra precaution was taken the day of the verdict.  States near Uttar Pradesh were put in red alert (to include Delhi).  Police were able to break apart groups bigger than six people on the street if they saw any.  Kids were taken out of school and kept home, and no one was on the street around the time of the verdict.

    I knew to be cautious, but I maintained the mentality that this would not happen to me and that everything would blow over.  I didn’t fully understand the seriousness of these situations until talking to my friend who is half Indian and half American.  He told me that his family has emergency flight tickets for his mom, brother, and himself to be
    lifted out of India in a moments notice if needed.  That’s when I realized that there are people who live here, and are constantly worried about their safety everyday.  On the slightest chance that trouble will strike, they are always in a state of red alert, bags packed and plane tickets on hand just to be safe.

    Luckily, this time around, the panic was for nothing because the verdict divided the land up equally, but I can only wonder what will happen next.

    Brigitte M. Clark

  •  Guests are God

    Thursday, Sep. 16, 2010 8:13 PM

    Many people have expressed the urgency to always be cautious of your surroundings and smart about your money when traveling to a country such as India.  They give advice such as, keep your money hidden and close to your body, suggesting the use of money pouches/ fanny packs.  They believe that there is always someone who would want to pickpocket or cheat people out of my money one-way or the other while in a foreign land.  They expect the worst out of people.
           I got similar advice from parents and neighbors before I left for India, but I have seen the opposite.  I have been here for two months, and have yet to get anything stolen from me.  Merchants on the streets and drivers aren’t trying to take all my money, just what they deserve.  Granted, some of the prices can be a bit steep (in India standards) at times, but they never gave me any reason to feel threatened or worried that I am getting taken advantage of.
           Many people who own or work for a business here in India have a notion that “Guests are God.” I feel like I am always welcomed where ever I go, and am treated very hospitable.  There have been times that the shop owner/ driver has reduced their price to my asking, and there has been a few times when I gave too much money and they returned it with out hesitation.  One shop owner chased me down the street when he realized I dropped my wallet (full of money).
           Maybe I have just been extremely lucky, but I don’t think its luck.  I feel that the fears others had expressed to me were stereotypes.  Not every person in India is  pick-pockets.  Not every person is looking to find ways to make more money.  Not every person is looking to cheat you.  There may be a few bad apples, who do pickpocket, steal, and cheat; but we have that in America too.  Why is it foreign
    countries we are more worried about?

    Brigitte M. Clark

  •  Stereotyping Americans

    Tuesday, Sep. 14, 2010 8:08 PM

    Stereotyping is something everybody does.  Just because a person is a certain height, gender, race, ethnicity, or anything else that can define a person, these defining qualities allows other people to assume they know something about a person without taking the time to get to know them.  Today, I came across the stereotype for the typical American college student.
           I was waiting in Nizamuddin Park for the kids participating in the NGO I’m volunteering at, and a boy around my age, asks if it would be okay to sit down and talk with me.  Eager to make new friends, I agreed and we began with the basic getting-to-know-you conversation.  As always (or so I believe) in a conversation between a girl and a boy in India, he asked me if I had a boyfriend.  He then proceeded to ask if I have sex with my boyfriend.  Shocked by his upfront and personal question, I just replied that was inappropriate to ask someone you just met.  He apologized and told me that he thought all young adults in the US, in their college years had sex all the time.
           I was ashamed that he had this view on the American society, but sadly I could see his point.  How many movies had I watched that have sex scenes in them?  How many songs that we listen to on a daily bases that have references to sex?  Not only is sex everywhere in the media, but also it is in real life.  How many times have I seen “walk of shames” in the mornings on my way to early classes?  How did we let it get this far that we are stereotyped into people who have sex for a hobby?

  •  The Rude and Inconsiderate Embarrassment

    Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010 5:50 PM

          I cannot believe how disrespectful one of the students in my abroad program was today.  We were in the middle of Hindi class, and this kid storms in an hour and a half late.  With out a word of apology or explanation, he slammed the door shut, banged his stuff around, and sat in his seat and sulked.  When class was over, our teacher (who is the sweetest woman ever) asked him if anything was wrong and why he was late.  He gave her an excuse that he got lost, placing the blame solely on his auto rickshaw driver and not himself.  He was trying to make it seem like he was the victim because it took him so long to get to class
    and he had to pay for the extra long ride.
          I don’t know if at his school, those actions are acceptable, or if he thinks he can get away with it because we are in a different country, but I was definitely raised better.  I know for a fact that a rickshaw driver does get lost sometimes, but we have been coming to the same place for 3 weeks, and by now we should know if we are in the wrong part of town.  It is our responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and make sure that the driver is going the right way.  In most cases the driver will just ask someone else on the street for directions.  I was so embarrassed for his actions and the way he treated our teacher that I went back and apologized for him.  He is representing all students who study abroad from the US, and I did not want her to think we are all just as rude and inconsiderate.

    Brigitte M. Clark

  •  The Ignorant Foreigner

    Saturday, Aug. 21, 2010 5:49 PM

          It is extremely important in India to be aware of the different lifestyles.  Today I made a mistake that made me the ignorant foreigner. I was riding in an auto rickshaw on the way to the market when I saw two kids who were “playing” outside.  They waved to me, and my automatic instinct was to smile and wave back.  To my naïve delight, the girls came up to my stopped rickshaw and started playing the drum and doing acrobatic dance.  I honestly just thought they were being friendly children eager for an adoring audience; a Stewart from Mad TV saying, “Look what I can do…” It was brought to my attention that they were dancing for me for money, and that I waved them over to perform.
          Thinking back on it, why would a little girl be throwing herself on the hot and dirty pavement of Delhi for free?  All the signs were there too: the girls were wearing dirty, torn clothes, and they had no shoes.  Of course they were trying to make money, performing as a means to survive.  I’m curious how many ignorant foreigners make similar mistakes, but do realize what has happened and do not give them money.
    How many times have these children not recieved money for their efforts?

    Brigitte M. Clark

  •  Green Living in India

    Monday, Aug. 2, 2010 5:48 PM

    When people think of India, they normally think of how dirty it is.  One of the first things I noticed when I arrived are the wrappers from snacks and other food that had been carelessly tossed on the side of the road and in ditches.  Ironically, for the amount of trash in the streets of Delhi, I came to find that India is one of the greenest cities in the world. India has a higher recyclable rate than in the United States.
    The US tries to make a point of having recycle bins in households and public centers, but many times, recyclables get thrown away.  In India they do not recycle at a household level.  Instead they have people called “rats” who dig through the garbage and pick out everything that can be recycled.
           Also, India has less trash by a “no plastic bag” law, sending customers home with bags made out of newspaper or cotton similar to the “go-green” bags we buy in the States.  They are also eco-friendly with water conservation, by washing their clothes by hand, and taking “bucket showers” to wash themselves.  Also, tourist transportation (taxis, buses, and auto rickshaws) are run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) that is more environmentally clean than the alternative fuels like

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