Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yesterday I became an anthropologist

Courtney and I had the most amazing experience yesterday. After lunch we decided to take an auto rickshaw to Andhra University and explore the library in the Women's Studies Center. We had met with one of the heads of the center, Dr. Ratna Kumari, a few days earlier, and she had given us permission to come whenever we liked. She is an amazingly brilliant and passionate woman whom we initially met when she came to visit BYU last winter. Because of how successful that trip was, she is willing to be very helpful to us here - offering advice, willing to look over questionaires, suggesting contacts for us. It was a little surreal sitting in her office being plied with chilled water and pastries and soda and discussing world issues and our research.

We are learning the correct methods of introductions and procedures for networking while we here. Sitting in Ratna Kumari's office seemed informal on the surface, but there is definitely a code of conduct and social rules to follow as we start making connections. It's in the manner of complimenting and eating what's placed in front of you and addressing superiors and grandly thanking people for services offered and humbling yourself and correctly wording had better believe it's a code of social conduct as real and omnipresent as our own - and one we have to learn if we're going to be successful. Thank heavens we had Dr. Nuckolls with us to guide us along and take cues from.

But back to the library. When Courtney and I went in, there were 5-6 women already who of course stopped what they were doing, made introductions, and sat and talked with us for almost an hour. Indians make a big deal about networking and expanding social contacts. It's important to make strong relationships and ties in everyday life as well as in the business world. But it was amazing! These women were intelligent and friendly and helpful and were asking us questions, and we were asking them questions and everyone was laughing, and then it struck: We were doing anthropology! We were sitting and taking notes and talking about the demographics of women entrepreneurs and writing down phone numbers and planning interviews for next week. We had follow up questions, we were giving correct affirmative cues and pausing in the right places to silently ask them to elaborate - we had arrived. It was thrilling. It was empowering. It was fascinating. We couldn't get over it and kept replaying it while we drove back. Yesterday I woke up a student and went to bed an anthropologist.

And now for pictures of what I've been up to:


Michelle, Tiffany and I enjoying the monsoon on our roof.

How we eat all of our meals. So good! I'm still getting used to be waited on...

Putting up Amber's mosquito net for her. I had to get a little creative...

The small shops in Lawson's Bay right around the corner from us.

Seven of the eventual nine we fit into the auto rickshaw. I ended up putting my head out of the window.

Fabric shopping!!! I didn't want to leave...


  1. I want some of that fabric please and thank you. It looks like you are having a kick-in-the-pants time.

  2. I'd love to be there in that rain with you, you've no idea! And that fabric looks just luscious, I just want to touch it! I'm glad you're having fun!

  3. Z, I can't believe I spent your last night talking about me. You're way more interesting. I grinned like a fool while reading your blog. What a wonderful transformation! isn't it great to see that those things were inside you all along! I love your alter ego. i don't if I have one, but whoever it might i'd want them to be friends with yours.

  4. Suzanne, I stumbled across your blog after noticing you had one on your facebook account. Hope you don't mind me adding you to my blog links, but I think reading about your experiences in India is pretty fascinating. (This is your cousin Amber Powell (Redd), by the way). My blog is private, so if you'd like to add mine, just let me know what e-mail address you want an invite to. Mine is