I hired my auto rickshaw driver to take us to Mehndiganj. We went to Mehndiganj on 28th of March. We reached there and saw that there was a big conference going on. There were more than 500 people attending the conference. Amanda was shocked to see that number of people. When we reached, there was a musical group presenting folk songs regarding Coke issue. I had already seen them a lot of times and always liked their songs. I enjoyed them. It was too noisy there but I liked everything. Lok Samiti was to inaugurate a pond in Mehndiganj. There were no famous people when I reached there, everybody was at inauguration function of pond which was about 2 Kms away from conference place. We went there and found that Nandlal Master, Sandeep Pandey and other social workers were distributing sweets to villagers. The pond had already been inaugurated. I missed it but took lots of pictures.
I met Anurag who was Sandeep Pandey’scousin and working with ASHA. He was so interested in people. He wanted to talk everyone. I met Mr. Rajiv who was from New Jersey. He was also very nice man. He was also a member of ASHA. Amanda wanted to interview few people but it was too noisy there so we decided to record the speeches and not interview anyone that day.
Lok Samiti had arranged lunch for everyone. We had lunch with 1000 other people. Everybody was trying to feed Amanda and Dave hard. I don’t know if Amanda likes Indian food or not but Dave was in love with India. He finished all his food but Amanda left the food as she always does. After the lunch we came back to conference place again.
It was Dave’s turn now. He gave a big speech. Anurag was translating his speech. I know he didn’t do a good job but it was OK. Dave talked about a river in the U.S. that got fired because of heavy pollution. It immediately made me remember about Ganga’s future. I don’tknow what is going to happen with Ganga. Well, I liked Dave’s speech. He told about importance of wetlands and government’s role in preventing the environment. He thinks that government should come forward. I agree with him. He was so nice.
After Dave’s speech a lot of other social workers gave speeches and everybody was so nice. One of them was from south India. When he came to hold mike, his first wording was ” I couldn’t speak Hindi because I am from south India. I would give my speech in English and need a translator.” I thought he really didn’t know Hindi. He started giving his speech in English and one translator started translating his speech but he was not happy with translator’s job. Then he started speaking Hindi and if I know Hindi then I must say that he spoke perfect Hindi. There was no problem with his Hindi. I don’t know why he wanted to give his speech in English where 99% of the people were villagers who don’t understand a single word of English. I think he was targeting foreigners, who were in number of 7-8, as his listeners.
As I wrote about literacy in villagers of Mehndiganj, it made me remind about 7 months ago when I was in Mehndiganj working with a student from University of London. We were there to interview Nandlal and fortunately there was some cultural program organized by Lok Samiti that day in village. There were more than 500 people in that program, we were sitting with other villagers. Suddenly Nandlal went on stage and invited my friend to light up the candle and start the program. Nandlal said that we have a very special guest from London.
As my friend moved towards the stage, all the people started talking about him. I heard two people talking each other about where London was situated. One of them asked other “Is it far away from Lucknow? Another one replied “What are you talking about. London is near Delhi.” Both had already been to Delhi so one of them told other that “I have heard that London is at other side side of a ocean but we didn’t see any ocean while we were going to Delhi” His friend replied that “All the oceans are after Delhi.”
I just mean to say that most of the people in Mehndiganj are uneducated and don’t know anything about what is going on besides of Mehndiganj and that social worker was trying to speak in English. If he was targeting western listeners then it was his very big mistake. He was there to help Mehndiganj’s people not to interact foreigners. Then there was a folk song show again. After it 28th conference was over and we came back to home.