Goodbye Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar Travel Blog

 › entry 19 of 29 › view all entries
Tanushree's handiwork -- I could never have wrapped up a sari

My volunteer assignment has come to an end, so it’s time to say goodbye to Bhubaneswar.  I had a rough beginning, but overall it’s been a positive experience.  I’ve especially enjoyed getting to know my colleagues Sabita, Tanushree, Bharati, Nihar, Pushpa, and Bijay.  I’m not so sure, though, that my work has made much of an impact.  Mostly I did heavy editing of reports and wrote copy for a new brochure and the annual report.  The editing was pretty satisfying, since I think having a native English speaker fix the grammar and usage errors makes a huge difference in how documents read, and therefore how they’re perceived.  (At least I think so.)  I arrived at an exceptionally busy time at my NGO, so when I handed in drafts of documents I’d edited or written, feedback was slow in coming or non-existent.

Do I look Indian yet? (Not!)
  I did get the opportunity to edit the NGO’s website content, which will definitely come to fruition when their new website goes live quite soon.  Overall, I think I got more out of being a volunteer than the organization got out of hosting me.

 

Beyond the work, I do think I made an impact as an ambassador of sorts.  Most people in the office have never met an American or a Jew before, so I now constitute their entire experience of both groups.  One co-worker told me he was struck by my humility, respect for cultural norms/behaving appropriately, and that I don’t talk super loudly. 

 

The custom in the office when anyone leaves is to gather the whole staff in a room, sit in a circle, have some food, and whoever wants to say something about or to the person chimes in when the mood strikes.

Some people from the office bidding me farewell
  They did this for me a couple of days ago, which was a most pleasant and unexpected surprise.  Unfortunately most of the people I’ve come to know weren’t in the office that day, but my supervisor, the director of the NGO, and a couple of other people spoke, and I had an opportunity to share some of my own impressions about my experience and the organization.  And they gave me presents.  Woo hoo!

 

During my last six weeks in Bhubaneswar, I lived with my co-worker Tanushree.  We didn’t know each other at all when I moved in.  She made me feel welcome and at ease right away, calling the apartment “our” home and answering the zillion questions I had.  Living with an Indian woman in her late 20s was a very different experience than having a room in a hostel full of giggly 22-year old girls, most of whom spoke no English.

Me, Tanushree, and Bharati at the office
  So even though Tanushree’s apartment was a bit far from the office, too hot, and had an Indian-style toilet, I was very happy to be there.  I got to cook my own food, Tanushree showed me parts of Bhubaneswar I hadn’t seen, and most importantly, I got to know her and formed a new friendship.

 

Originally I planned to go back to the US right after my assignment, but I’ve decided instead to extend my stay in India for a bit.  My time here just doesn’t feel complete yet.  More soon...

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Tanushrees handiwork -- I could n…
Tanushree's handiwork -- I could …
Do I look Indian yet? (Not!)
Do I look Indian yet? (Not!)
Some people from the office biddin…
Some people from the office biddi…
Me, Tanushree, and Bharati at the …
Me, Tanushree, and Bharati at the…
My bedroom
My bedroom
My bedroom at Tanushrees apartment
My bedroom at Tanushree's apartment
My bed
My bed
The kitchen
The kitchen
The kitchen
The kitchen
The view from the kitchen
The view from the kitchen
Tanushrees room
Tanushree's room
The toilet
The toilet
The shower
The shower
The view of my street from the bal…
The view of my street from the ba…
Sunset from my balcony
Sunset from my balcony
Sunset from my balcony
Sunset from my balcony
Buying fruit in Bhubaneswar
Buying fruit in Bhubaneswar
Buying fruit
Buying fruit
Tanushree buying herself a guilty …
Tanushree buying herself a guilty…
The circus is in the background
The circus is in the background
At work, Bharati
At work, Bharati
At work, Tanushree
At work, Tanushree
Me, Ghasiram, and Bharati
Me, Ghasiram, and Bharati
Gotham, who cooks lunch for the of…
Gotham, who cooks lunch for the o…
The kitchen, aka mess, in the of…
The kitchen, aka "mess," in the o…
Lunch is served!
Lunch is served!
Its hard to see him, but thats A…
It's hard to see him, but that's …
Tanushree
Tanushree
A Chinese/Indian restaurant where …
A Chinese/Indian restaurant where…
Tanushree and me
Tanushree and me
My co-worker Bharati invited me ov…
My co-worker Bharati invited me o…
Im in love with her daughter, Neh…
I'm in love with her daughter, Ne…
Im officially Auntie Debra!
I'm officially Auntie Debra!
What a character!
What a character!
Manoj and me
Manoj and me
Nihar, with whom I had many wonder…
Nihar, with whom I had many wonde…
Tanushree and me
Tanushree and me
Sabita and me
Sabita and me
My supervisor Prasant and me
My supervisor Prasant and me
Bhubaneswar
photo by: debrasiegel