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Reisverslag Are we doomed, because of human disinterestedness?
31 oktober 2012
Are we doomed, because of human disinterestedness?
After all, that is sort of why I am all the way on this side of the earth... isn’t it?
Because whereas the fieldtrips I wrote about last time were genuinely interesting and broadening my mind and understanding of what is happening in the world (which was one of my motivations for coming to India), I still spend most of my time in the DAMA office and my Saturdays are primarily occupied with helping customers and folding clothes in Daram – our retail store.
This internship is in its nature really an office job – I come in around 10, I sit on my chair with my little laptop on my lap (or with my feet also on the chair and with my laptop on my knees) I have lunch at 13.30 with some other young girls who rarely speak English (some of them can’t, the others rather chat in Telugu) and around 17.20 I leave the office again to walk home. Some days are dull, other fly by extremely quickly; some things I like, other things I am skeptical about… you know, it’s work.
So, what is it that I do here? The internship is now exactly half way, so let’s take some time to reflect.
- done a review of a governmental report called the Handloom Census and analysed in what ways the term “weaver” is explained in the report. The answer: pretty consistently, but lacking more qualitative considerations.
- read up on the handloom and crafts sector in India, from various viewpoints such as economic viability, its cultural background, the technical skills involved and the ideologies for the future.
- seen a little bit of the entire (pre-)weaving process during the fieldtrip to East-Godavari and in the DAMA loomstudio
- done a bit of pre-loom and weaving activities myself (and genuinely enjoyed it)
- started a document that will result in a glossary of terms that are relevant for anyone who wishes to understand the handloom sector
- compared an aweful lot of websites and webstores (fashionably called “online market research”) in order to help define the future positioning of our own webstore and to get a sense of what we (or should I say: I ?) would like our own webstore to look like.
- tried to do more research on the Indian and Hyderabadi youth culture.
- seen how another e-commerce start-up does its business (and thought of many things we probably should do differently)
- tried to find a way to collect all ideas for the webstore in a comprehensive manner (just not sure whether I have succeeded in this, yet, as the discussion on this still needs to take place).
- done approximately 80 small interviews with Daram customers to get an understanding of their preferences, hopes and concerns related to the products on offer and the handloom industry as such.
- brainstormed on how our retail store could become (even) more attractive to current and future customers.
- thought of ideas for a potential master thesis after I return from this internship that is related to whatever I have seen and done here.
- checked the little library we have here in the office to see whether it is complete (not entirely), whether the categorization makes sense (not entirely either), and whether I think certain kinds of books/information are missing (yeah, I could think of something).
- had some interesting and some completely pointless discussions with colleagues.
- truthfully, spent quite some time procrastinating…
Now, maybe for some this list looks long and for others rather unimpressive. I guess that I am somewhere in between when it comes to how I feel about my presence at this organization – whether it is purposeful, creating some value addition of some sort or not. Because many of the things I do here, I have not done before and I do not really know what is the best way to do it. I reckon that is the entire point of an internship, “learning by doing” so to say, but because communication tends to be scarce between me and my colleagues I am convinced that I could work on potentially more interesting and more (longer-term) rewarding or satisfactory projects than I am doing now. Things that do not only require my skills of looking for certain information, but also allow me some training of other (academic?) skills – or at least reflection.
I guess that this is, or will be, happening when it comes to the design of the webshop. But I am not a designer and certainly not conscious of all the various impacts that certain design-related-decisions has on the visitor/potential customer. So I am thinking various scenarios and potential benefits and drawbacks of design possibilities, but I lack the insight to decide upon a certain design. A couple of weeks ago I and my boss have been going through various schemes, “user paths” and whatnot – some sort of sitemap that we wish our website to have. That we agreed upon fairly quickly (I presented, she agreed) But right now I am in the process of combining features I think are nice of other websites and waiting for the opportunity to discuss these with my boss(es) in order to come to some sort of definitive (?!) design concept. And I would like to discuss my ideas before spending a lot of time in drafting something that really does not reflect the ideas of the organization.
Maybe it is really just me, but I think I could quite possibly get more out of the internship as well as do more beneficial work for this organisation. I have met many Indians who do not give a *@#^ if they do not work at work. The less energy their labour requires the better. This mentality is also threatening the entire handloom industry, as (potential) weavers are moving out of their villages to more urban areas to do low skilled but comparably higher paid labour. And such attitudes can be found everywhere, I guess, but it strikes me that it is in the end always the people who are the only ones who can make a difference. And any society, including India with its rich culture and massive, truly enourmous potential, need to realize this before any form of progressive change can manifest. And that awareness seems to be absent from the minds of many people… But then people have also been telling me I am a bit of a strange person, with my pro-working ethics. I am naïve, inexperienced in “the real life”, too ideological or simply silly.
Which maybe is true indeed, although I honestly don’t mind spending some time at facebook, checking my (personal) e-mails or even writing this very blog in the bosses’ time. Yet I do not wish to do so, say, 65% of my time at work. That gives me no sense of satisfaction At All.
And then I wonder.. is the same mentality what awaits me elsewhere in my later working-life? In academics, business, working at an governmental organization or an NGO or wherever?
Maybe I, too, will begin or be involved in a start-up in whatever direction. Then at least one’s efforts have immediately effect on your output and thereby your earnings?!
Aaaanyways. Today is Halloween and there is no trace of it in Secunderabad whatsoever. So we decided yesterday to throw our own party on Friday at our apartment. You know, people, food, booz, music… fun ^^
And then there is yet another workday on Saturday, but that is for later consideration.
31 oktober 2012 15:19 | Door: sandra
marith je schrijft super erg mooie verslagen en volgens mij heb je de tijd van je leven daar en leer je
erg veel geniet nog even dat doen wij van je verslagen heel veel liefs uit duiven groetjes sandra,rene en melissa en natuurlijk ook bryan
Hey Sandra (en co :P). Dankjewel :) Ondanks sommige twijfels (zoals beschreven in dit verslagje) vermaak ik me hier nog steeds prima inderdaad. Maar het voelt ook wel lekker dat ik nu halverwege ben. Ik ken de organisatie, heb al heel wat dingen gedaan en hoop dat de aankomende 2 maanden nog wat interessante en/of verrassende dingen in petto hebben :P Er komen in ieder geval nog wat festiviteiten aan, dus dat zit sowieso goed! haha :) Zodra ik weer een nieuw verhaaltje te vertellen heb vind je die hier. De groeten daar aan iedereen, en tot gauw maar weer!
31 oktober 2012 20:03 | Door: Colette
Al halverwege! Heel goed! Ik ben benieuwd wat je eet als ontbijt, avondeten, kook jezelf of haal je iets? De smaken zijn zo anders als in Nederland net als de wijze waarop mensen hun avondeten regelen, hoe gaat dat in India? Heb je alle verschillende curry's gehad? Misschien kun je ook over eten, drinken en overleven in secunderabad schrijven? Lijkt me echt leuk!
Succes en maak er wat moois van hè?!
Liefs Michel en Colette
jaa :D afgelopen weekend had ik een soort van 'kookworkshop' en ik ben van plan wat rare ingrediënten naar huis te sturen voordat ik hier weer vertrek :) Kijken of ik ook iets lekkers er van kan maken in Nederland, hoewel ik hier niet zo heel veel kook. Een enkele keer pizza en een keer dosa (ipv pannenkoeken :P). Maar een blog over het eten is zeker geen slecht idee ^^ Ik weet ook niet zo goed waar de inhoud van deze blog vandaan kwam, maar opeens stond het op 'papier' zeg maar. Volgende keer weer wat positievers :P
En dat laatste komt vast goed! Mn huidige huisgenoten vertrekken deze maand, dus we zijn van plan nog een aantal leuke dingen te doen voor die tijd :D Te beginnen met een post-halloween feestje morgenavond (waarvoor ik denk ik wel ga proberen wat lekkere snacks in elkaar te draaien), ghehe.
En misschien dat je nog iets interessants over 'overleven' leest in een van mn eerste verhaaltjes?