What the heck is cricket, anyway?

I was very curious about the game, cricket, before leaving for India. I’d seen it on TV a few times but had mentally filed it in the watching golf folder. I’m a college basketball fan through-and-through and was a little sad about missing the bulk of March Madness this year. So, I thought that cricket might be a good substitute.

At our hotel in Kolkata the main sport on TV at the hotel is cricket. It was on when I left to go for an early morning run, it was on during breakfast, at dinner the kitchen staff all had their noses pressed to the glass partition so that they wouldn’t miss the action.

I honestly can’t say that I understand much more about the game than I did before I left, but I can say that it is really fun to play! I spent a Sunday morning with the CSC India 19 team attempting to play cricket at the park by Victoria Memorial.

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There were so many pick up games going that it was hard to tell where one field ended and another began. With the help of some locals we got one wicket set up and had batting practice. We never actually got around to the running part because it was 100 degrees and 95% humidly. Everyone took at least a few turns at bat and some even tried the bowling position. We had fun laughing together and entertained the regulars with our enthusiastic lack of skill.

We finally ended our game when security came by to chase us off the field. They were filming a Bollywood movie in the park and we were getting in the way of the camera. Maybe one of us might accidentally make it into a scene!

See more photos at flickr.com/jilldaffodil.

#ibmcsc India

Published post trip (PPT) due to connectivity issues in India.

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Sundarban Jungle Cruise – Weekend #2

The entire team decided to take a safari into the jungle to the largest delta in the world. We went by boat to see the mangrove forests in the delta region of West Bengal and also one of the largest reserves for the Royal Bengal Tiger. They say that you might be lucky to see these tigers in the wild….sadly, we weren’t that lucky…but we still had a great time!

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We saw dolphins, many different types of birds, a wild boar, spotted deer, crabs, mud skippers and monkeys. As we cruised by the mangrove trees, you could squint your eyes and watch the alternating light and shadow and imagine that the tigers were watching you go by.

Here’s a breakdown of the weekend:

Day 1

8.00 am: Left the Senator Hotel first thing in the morning. Our bus ride was 3+ hours to reach Godkhali Port where the main road ends. The ride was very bumpy and also stop-and-go the whole way. We were all a little rattled at the end of this leg.

12:00 pm: Boarded our boat and started our journey on the river.  The top deck was set up for nature viewing. The lower deck had the sleeping cabins, bathroom and kitchen. The plan was for 11 CSC team members, 2 guides, and 3 crew to all spend the night on the boat pictured below.

3.00 pm: We docked the boat and went on the village walking tour to see the local market, honey collectors and fishermen.

7.00 pm: Our guide was informed that a storm was going to come in that night and it wasn’t safe for us to stay on the boat. He was able to secure rooms for us at one of the lodges just outside of the reserve. In the end, it was probably for the best since we couldn’t figure out how everyone was going to fit into a sleeping area for the night anyway.

9.00 pm: We had dinner at the lodge in the outdoor patio area. We shared the large patio with a few other families who were singing regional songs. The music was entertaining.

Day 2

6.00 am: We had breakfast on the boat en route to the entrance to the reserve. Our guide was the first in line to get our day permits to enter the park. Over the course of the day, we went to 3 watch towers and got a birds-eye view of the jungle and a few spotted deer.

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In between the watch towers, we sat on the top deck watching the scenery, playing cards and competing in Carrom (a popular East Asian board game that is sort of like billiards). They boat crew got in on the action and helped us with some strategy and then challenged Tiago and Flavio to a game. Team Brazil won!

4.00 pm: We got back on the bus for 3+ hours and all feel asleep for most of the ride

8 pm: We arrived back at the Senator Hotel in Kolkata tired and dirty but met for dinner to recap our adventure.

A big thank you goes out to Steve and Matilde for organizing the trip. It was great!

See more photos at flickr.com/jilldaffodil.

#ibmcsc India

Victoria Memorial & Kolkata Walking Tour

Part of the CSC India 19 team took a short walk from our hotel to see The Victoria Memorial. It was a super hot day but we got lots of great photos and saw some amazing art work inside the Memorial.

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We met up with the rest of the team and our Kolkata expert, Sanjay Paul, for an afternoon walking tour through the city. We ended up down by the Hooghly River and got ice cream.

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See more photos at flickr.com/jilldaffodil.

#ibmcsc India

Ichhe Dana – What a Way to Start our First Weekend in Kolkata

The CSC India 19 team and IBM Kolkata volunteers spent the morning of March 9th at Ichhe Dana meeting with their amazing students.

The children are all very talented and presented Bengali poetry, art, dancing, musical drama, and science. Mikimasa was the star of the morning  with a Polaroid camera to give the children (almost) instant photos. He also led 4 groups of children in making origami cranes and hats. The rest of the CSC team tried to follow along but got lost after the first 3 or 4 steps. The children did so well and successfully completed at least an origami hat.

Elsa brought Salsa music and, with help from Jocelyn, taught several steps. In return, the children taught us Indian Bollywood dancing. The morning was one of the highlights of our stay in Kolkata.

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I love my original piece of art! See more photos from our Ichhe Dana visit at flickr.com/jilldaffodil.

Ichhe Dana encourages children continued access to education that they typically don’t receive at their regular school and allows them to develop and grow their talents in language, science, visual & performing arts and reading.

Visit http://www.ichhedana.org.in/ to learn more about this organization.

#ibmcsc India

A Great Day with Prayasam and CSC India19!

I’m thrilled to end week #2 on a positive note. Fides, Tiago and I had a wonderful time during our workshop on Personal Branding and Media Awareness today. We spend 2 hours with the Prayasam team discussing best practices, role playing and sharing experiences. The Prayasam team has been great to work with and it was so fun to have the opportunity to spend the entire morning with them today Thanks!

#ibmcsc India Image

“Peace begins with a smile”

– Mother Teresa (Before leaving for India I did a Google search on quotes from Mother Teresa. The simplicity of this quote really resonated with me.)

During our first week in Kolkata, the CSC India 19 team visited Mother Teresa’s Mission and Motherhouse. The sisters in the Motherhouse were very friendly and helpful and had a smile for every visitor. You can’t help but feel welcome during your visit.

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We paid our respects at Mother Teresa’s tomb within the Sisters of Charity’s Motherhouse and toured the small museum displaying Teresa’s worn sandals, worn utensils and other artifacts. Mother Teresa’s room is up the stairs and displays a crown-of-thorns above her bed.

The house was quiet and peaceful – a nice contrast to the sensory overload of being out on the streets of Kolkata. The noise and activity is really fun to experience but was a bit overwhelming at first.

On the other end of the noise spectrum, but equally interesting, was our visit to the Kalighat Kali Temple – a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali.

Getting to the temple was an adventure in itself. We took the Metro and then walked a few blocks up the crowed streets and through a street bazaar to get there.

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We were told that Kali is worshiped much like a human mother and visitors bring her their domestic problems and prayers for prosperity, often returning when their prayers are fulfilled to express their gratitude.

We had a guide to show us through the temple and take us to the Kalighat Temple Tank (Kundupukur), which is situated in the south-east of the temple outside the boundary walls. We were barefoot the entire time which was a bit unnerving. However, I was not brave enough to wash my feet in the water from the tank at the end of our tour.

It was awesome to visit at night so that we could see the lighting colors slowly change.

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#ibmcsc India

Corporate Service Corps – India 19

I’m totally looking forward to our first in-person meeting with our project partner, Prayasam, next Monday! I will be working with two other team members and Prayasam for the month of  March as part of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps program. The Corporate Service Corps (CSC) was launched in 2008 to help provide IBMers with high quality leadership development while delivering high quality problem solving for communities and organizations in emerging markets. The program empowers IBM employees as global citizens by sending groups of 10 – 15 individuals from different countries with a range of skills to an emerging market for four week community-based assignments. During the assignment, participants perform community-driven economic development projects working at the intersection of business, technology, and society.

To learn more about Prayasam, visit their website at http://www.prayasam.org or read on….

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Prayasam was registered under the Registration of Societies, West Bengal Act XXVI of 1961. One of the most pressing concerns of any developing country is health. In India, health services fall grossly short of the country’s needs, making the adage “prevention is better than cure” particularly relevant. Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989 states, “Children have the right to the highest possible standard of health, and to access to health and medical services,” and all states signed on the Convention, including India, are bound to honor the statutes enshrined within it. Unfortunately, India faces increasing cases of child deaths caused by malaria and diarrhea, both of which are preventable.

Although the onus to provide basic health facilities is on the government, the state faces significant constraints for resources and infrastructure. Primary health care centers in rural areas are over-stretched, and clinics for the urban poor are even worse. The majority of the budget of urban local governments is set aside for infrastructure—roads, streetlights, water, and waste disposal—while services for education and health are neglected. In fact, education and health services are being eased out of the realm of local government, because in the era of privatization they are still seen as free services with little revenue-generating potential.

In this context of falling budgets and uncertain government services, preventive health programs grounded in communities offer some hope to the urban poor. This not only impacts their health, but also their economic earning potential, as disease robs daily wage earners of their income and forces them to spend large parts of their meager income on medicine.

Prayasam has developed a unique model of child-led activism in which the children of slum areas act as change agents by forming groups and spreading awareness on health, hygiene and sanitation within their community. Prayasam supports theses “area health minders” by providing information and first aid training, creating educational materials, and helping them to become real advocates for their cause. The children have collaborated with more than 60 schools to help form more groups of “area health minders” in the adjacent municipal area, effectively reaching more than 5,000 students and their families.
Stay tuned for all the details about our project as it unfolds!

#ibmcsc india