Author Archives: svalheidi

The time I tried to post stuff from India

So.

Once upon a time I had three packages to send and I thought I would be a splendid adult and get all my post-office errands done at once. And that would probably have been fine. If the post office wouldn’t have been in a small town in India, that is.

I trotted downtown with my assortment of postal parcels (not yet packaged) and found my way to the post office, only asking for directions four times (win!). I go in and don’t have a clue where to go. There are no lines, no information signs and no one is even making the slightest eye contact with me. So I stand in the middle of the empty room in front of a row of glass-covered cubicles where people are working in a frenzy with packages and letters. A sign that I have to be in the right place. So I wait. And try and not look awkward. And hope for someone to notice me. They do. Because they stare, point, whisper and giggle. I try and look cool. Like Audrey Hepburn. But Audrey probably never needed to post packages in India, so I drop my cool and resort to desperate instead.

And then a man approaches me. A man who unfortunately seems to not speak English. He asks me something and I point at my stuff and go “post, packages?” while raising my shoulders and eyebrows in a way I hope conveys only slight polite desperation and the man points me towards one of the cubicles. There, another man is sitting and does not for a second acknowledge my existence. Suddenly the no-english-speaking man appears by my side again and looks at me confused. I look back at him confused and retort to my “Post, packages?” with shoulders twitching. The man still looks confused. Then a second man, with a slightly less confused look, comes over and tells me I am on the wrong side of the building. I apparently need to go around to the other side. Relieved that this isn’t the end of my postal experience I walk out. To find that the house is attached to another house, which is attached to another house, which is… You get the drill.

I stand there with my post/package and think “did he just pull a prank on me?”, when a third postal employee (I swear, they are having a field day inside right now) comes out and shakes his head (which I still haven’t figured out if it is yes or no) and says “I will show you mam” and we start walking down the street. We turn the block and on our way back up to the real post office (or the backside of the fake one I guess) he says “by the way, we closed at 2, so you won’t be able to leave your post”. I turn to look at him and think “you have got to be kidding me?!”, but instead I just go “oh” and drop my shoulders helplessly. He looks at my stuff and says suddenly “You need an envelope”.

So he takes me to a shop on the street where he instructs the female shopkeeper to find me the right kind of packaging for my parcels. Which apparently doesn’t limit itself to an envelope. Since I have dared to attach a small bag of candy to one of the cards they are in a frenzy to find me a box, because apparently I need one. I need a box that can then be put in an envelope.

The problem is that she doesn’t sell postal boxes.

So they start emptying out boxes of all different shapes and sizes in the store to find one that fits all my cards and tiny gifts (even though I keep trying to convey to them that they are going to three different place, hell, three different countries and therefore should preferable not be crammed in to one box). Finally they find one. A pink Barbie box.

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The man and the woman help each other out stuffing the box with all my stuff (at this point I have given up any attempts to convey the purpose of the delivery) and watch them seal the box closed, put it into a GIANT ENVELOPE (which apparently could not serve as a postal-packaging in itself) and fold the envelope around the box. Then the woman stops and says “You need to shut it with a 2 inch tape”.

I look at her puzzled. “A 2 inch tape?” I ask. “Yes, a 2 inch tape”, she says and looks at the man who goes “Yes, a 2 inch tape”. “Well, I don’t think I have one” I retort.

They both look at me as if I had told them I don’t own any underwear.

I try and regain my inner Audrey and ask her if she sells any (which doesn’t feel like an unreasonable request considering she sells postal packaging that apparently needs to be sealed with a 2-inch tape). “No”, she says and looks at me begrudgingly. “But you need a 2 inch tape”, she says again and looks at the postal guy.

I tell them I can probably check at the office and they both look very pleased. The postal guy looks reassuringly at me, hands me the package with the envelope-wrapped Barbie box and says “Come back to the post office at 9.30 am, mam”. And then he walks away.

Next day at work I ask the office assistant if he can help me with the postal-matter. Two hours later I leave the office with this.

WITH THIS.

parcel

This is how post is supposed to be packaged – said no sane person ever.

 

// Heidi

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Vanakam!

 

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Vi tre har landat i Kotagiri, insprängd bland de vackra bergen i naturreservatet Nilgiris i delstaten Tamil Nadu. Här pratar man Tamil, vilket vi ska börja ta lektioner i, och staden – dit man endast kommer på slingriga bergsvägar – är också hjärtat för organisationen Keystone.

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Keystone är en NGO som arbetar med ursprungsbefolkningens rättigheter och traditionsbevarande samt eko-utveckling i området. Man arbetar bland annat med vattenfrågor, hälsoutbildning, forskning, kommunikation, ekologiskt jordbruk och kultur. Organisationen har drygt 100 anställda och vårt campus är ett myller av härliga människor med olika bakgrunder. Många har arbetat sig upp i organisationen och det är ett ständigt utbyte av information och idéer inramat av ett spirande engagemang för organisationens mångfacetterade verksamhet.

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Förutom arbetet som Keystone rent konkret gör ute i byar runtom i området (som att informera om menstruell hälsa, ta vattenprover, hjälpa till med dokumentering av rättigheter till landet, utveckla eko-odlingen och ta lärdom av uråldriga traditioner och kultursedvänjor) så driver de även ett producentföretag samt agerar distributör för lokala råvaror – i ett led att skapa mervärde och rättvisa priser för de värdefulla produkter som samlas in av ursprungsbefolkningen (såsom honung, kryddor och grödor) och som tillverkas ute i byarna av skickliga hantverkare. De har även en lokal radiokanal som sänder både informations- och underhållningsprogram – för och av lokalbefolkningen.

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Vidden av Keystones arbete är imponerande och de har verkat i området i snart 25 år och blivit en betydelsefull aktör i den hållbara utvecklingen av regionen som exploaterades av engelsmännen i mitten av 1800-talet då allt mer av den vackra och sällsynta naturen skövlades för att ge rum åt teplantager. 1940 var redan nästan hälften av den planterade arealen i området te- eller kaffeplantager.

I dag är de utbredda tefälten en del av landskapet och som en ovetande turist så är det svårt att inse komplikationerna av de till synes pittoreska trappstegsodlingarna som omringar kullarna. Te-odlingarna har slagit ut det traditionella och biologiskt mer diversa jordbruket och te-ekonomin – som nu dominerar området – lockar allt fler ur ursprungsbefolkningen till relativt lågavlönade dagsarbeten. Traditionella och rituella sysslor och levebröd, som honungsjakt och keramikkonst, håller sakta men säkert på att dö ut, något som Keystone försöker motverka genom att sätta upp center för insamling och process av råvaror och dokumentation av traditionella konster.

kota

Här ska vi arbeta med informationsinsamling, göra intervjuer och lära oss om området, folket, utmaningarna och möjligheterna samt förhoppningsvis sticka ut på ett fältbesök eller två i de vackra, dimbeklädda bergen. Hoppas ni vill följa med oss!

Läs mer om KEYSTONE HÄR

 

 

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