Thursday, 6 November 2008

First Day in Ahmadabad

On Thursday morning, our group left with two cars from the university in Vallabh Vadyanagar to Ahmedabad. Our first stop was the Gujarat Vidyapith (Vidyapith, a sanskrit-turned-Gujarati word means a University; the university was founded in 1920 by Mahatma Gandhi), where we were welcomed by the VC Sudarshan Iyengar. He explained to us the significance of this university, which follows strongly Gandhi's rules for simple life and rural revitalisation. Technology is seen here as something not very possitive, just barely a necessary evil for some of the communication needs.

We move into our rooms in the guest house. The rooms are designed to host two people each, and we are asked if we would mind that. However, as we Westerners cherish our private sphere around us, we are then offered each an individual room.

We drive to the Gandhi Ashram at the bank of the river Sabarmati. There are Gandhi's house and a museum devoted to his life and work. At the river, there is a lot of construction going on: large concrete slabs are erected at the river banks, and some structures indicate that this river would be converted into a flood-controlled long lake.

Here now, our actual work regarding this project begins. These days before were very fruitful for networking and engaging with the people at the Anand University, but now we are conducting our actual project work. A workshop is held with poetry readings about the river. The participants should write something about the river which then is shared. Further, a translation workshop is held, highlighting the difficulties of translating Gujarati into English and vice versa. My role here was to record some of the activities for our project documentation.

A very interesting part of this activity is the conduction of interviews with people who are somewhat affected by the river and its transformation. We meet an elderly person who defends the project, saying it will bring water regulation and is beneficial to all citizens. But there are also sceptics who argue that this work destroys the coherence of the river with its banks and the surroundings.

In the afternoon we visit a woman who is working for the organisation darshan. They create street performances about critical issues, as they have been banned form performing in regular theatres. One issue which they have addressed in the past is the violence which had erupted between Muslims and Hindu in 2002 and the following years.


Dinesh Karia said...

.....Our first stop was the Gandhi University,.... Well, this is not the Gandhi University but the university founded by Gandhi in 1920. Its name is Gujarat Vidyapith (Vidyapith, a sanskrit-turned-Gujarati word means a versity).

Reinhold Behringer said...

Thank you very much, Dinesh, for this clarification!

I have updated the blog. Will still have to update the picture titles on Flickr...