Oct 21, 2007

Settling In(dia)

We've finally settled in rather nicely. India is treating us well, but that is to be expected as it treats everyone with power or money well at the expense of those who are devoid of such opportunities. We are staying in a house built in 1845 by missionaries - literally the first one built up on these mountains, it's rambling, large and very well equipped. It came with awesome furniture, washer, dryer, hot water heaters, oven, blender, toaster - everything down to a yogurt maker. We're spoiled! We've just installed a water purifier (very necessary) and have electricity, plumbing, and as is typical for life in India, two household employees! They help with cooking cleaning, gardening, and maintaining this house, and gardens, lawns and the dogs and cats that come with it. I've realized that it is not just a house but an institution all to itself. Pictures of the colonial beauty are here:

http://aliandcedar.com/gallery/back-to-india

This is refreshing after a trying first few weeks getting officially registered with the police in Bangalore for my research. You think American bureaucracy is stressful? Try India. My god. There is good reason to believe that the corruption in India is virtually the worlds worst, behind only a few small African states. If you are interested at all in India, pick up "In Spite of the Gods: the strange rise of modern India" by Edward Luce. It's a terrific explanation of this civilization-cum-country. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Anyway, after 3 grueling days we succeeded in becoming registered without paying a rupee of bribe - what a relief!

Finally, I'm getting down to business. Got a cell phone (useful things, never had one before, but wow, does it clear up the day!) and just yesterday we purchased a Mahindra jeep, so we're now mobile! Even more critical I've befriended a man who will make a marvelous research assistant. He grew up in a local village, and has an extensive knowledge of the area, people and ecology. He's honest (a key trait, especially when so many would-be-helpers are so eager to please that "yes" is the default answer, rather than the truth) and principled, and speaks solid English.

I'm eager and energized to begin my research on ethnic diversity and envi. mgmt. The topic is extremely germane to the Indian context. Next week I'll probably start visiting villages. Katie and I are already practicing and studying Tamil, and we may hire a tutor soon. Liam is still an absurdly cute 20lb little dude, and he's becoming more interactive all the time.

So, here we are, on the brink of it.

Tim, Katie, Liam