Sammy Loren, a young volunteer from New Orleans, spent nine months with Praxis in the communication department. In the time that he was here, Sammy travelled through the by-lanes of India, to arm himself with a people’s perspective. Following are his travelogues.
Presenting India from a different point of view. Enjoy!
The worker jams the crude contraptions beneath my sneakers. With a pair of nappy shoelaces, he ropes the rickety metal foot beds to me like they are death traps or torture devices, which, in fact, they are, if like me, you happen to hail from the West. However, in this corner of northern India, sandwiched between the chaotic capital of New Delhi to the South and the rugged Himalayan Mountains to the North, the rusty roller skates are standard at the Rink.
Stumbling inside Indian Coffee House feels like being printed onto a rusty film reel: patrons sport recently dusted bowties and leisure suits, the staff is starched into their uniforms, and everyone sips and snacks over the pressing issues of the day.
Dazed by the Victorian scene, I put some questions to a waiter. Is this a period restaurant? Who exhumed the old-timers? Why is no repulsive American pop music blaring from the radio?
It’s no coincidence that filmmakers use the documentary medium to uncover noisome social ills. Out of all the genres of cinema, documentaries shoulder the burden to highlight dilemmas and enable change. Resisting Coastal Invasion, the new movie by veteran Indian director KP Sasi and Visual Search Productions swims smoothly within this current.
The street before me, that only a few hours before drummed with thousands of flip-flops clicking the asphalt, now looks like a dungeon: dank and deserted of life, awaiting the thrashings of a jailer, or in tonight’s case, a torrential storm. Traffic has vanished, the circus of neon signs gone blank, and even a herd of goats cower beneath an awning, hiding from the blackness until dawn breaks. Chennai, a harbor megalopolis on the southern cone of India, is an unusually moist city, and even if it’s not raining, it’s about to start.
With all its dreadlocked hippies and dropouts, it’s amazing wholesome Indian families bundle into Rishikesh at all. Split along the banks of the holy Ganges River, the town nestled at the foot of the Himalayas has been the home of spiritual slushies since the Beatles arrived in the 60s.
From Beneficiaries to Agents of Change was launched in Chennai on January 23rd in the presence of members of marginalised communities who can use the self-administrable tools in the book to assess their community mobilisation process. The book has been put together and validated by Praxis with inputs from several community-based organisations in Tamil Nadu and Manipur. It can be used for anybody wanting to assess community preparedness for vulnerability reduction.
Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices successfully launched its Read Aloud series of participatory storybooks for children and young adults at Odyssey’s flagship store in Adyar, Chennai
Praxis and the Avahan-India AIDS Initiative
Understanding development from a people's perspective
Blog. Debate. Read. Write
Pictures of rural India.
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