Merry Christmas India

I spotted this little fellow on the way to the office last week... In August.

#4 The Meaning of Jugaad

You only need to exit a plane at Indira Gandhi International Airport to begin noticing the ingenius solutions Dilli-walas have come up with to solve problems such as leaky faucets or broken down vehicles.

These ingenius solutions are referred to as "Jugaad" by most Dilli-wallas. It sometimes feels as if these 'duct tape' solutions keep this country moving forward. Here are a few funny & inspired "jugaad" solutions I have spotted in my year.

1) This is an extremely common sight. An autorickshaw being towed by an even more run down autorickshaw with only a rusty chain connecting the two.

2) In Gurgaon I frequently see potholes being re-filled with only stones & sand - sometimes leading to disaster.

3) Every handyman we have called seems to have no plug on their power drill. However it is never a Problem. They just cram the two cord ends into an outlet.

4) I found this chap who was eager to transport a car & keep it looking clean and new. He simply wrappepd it in tape & burlap.

5) Although sometimes, the solutions are truly inspired. Like the famous Soulabh Toilet which can be built for an extremely low cost using locally sourced materials, and no running water source.

6) For another inspired solution, look at this retail stores answer to the plastic poly bag ban in Delhi (which only lasted 10 days from what I can tell...).

Unfortunately, sometimes there is no Jugaad solution for your problem, and eventually you must give up. Check out this beauty of a vehicle that is parked outside the Foreign Regional Registration Office as if to welcome you to your extended stay in India.

#3 - The Importance Of Giving Back

WOW - it has been a long time since I got on my soapbox and let my readers into my life here in Delhi. It has been a busy couple of months since my visit to the US. It has been both good and bad.

If I'm being entirely honest, it has been a rough couple of months. There is an old story that is often shared regarding the frog in a pot of boiling water. The story says that a frog who enters the pot when the water is cool, will become acclimated to the water and not be tempted to jump out of the heat. Eventually in this story, the frog dies.

Alternatively, dropping the frog directly into a pot of boiling water will cause the frog to leap from the pot, scalded - but alive. I've learned this year that I am a bit like a frog.

You see, when I first moved here everything was new, exciting & different. I was so consumed by the newness of it all that I never once noticed the water was getting hotter day by day. Little things like infrastructure issues, the heat, the dust, the crowd didn't bother me. They each were gradually turning up the heat on the water while I was too busy being distracted by the "newness" around me.

However, eventually work or family brought me away from India for a visit. Upon returning, I found entering Delhi was a bit like jumping into a pot of boiling water. OK, I know - it is a bit of a bad analogy - I don't die after all.... But the point is, the return is a shock. I find myself leaping into the comforts I've left behind. I crave the relative simplicity of life and home & bury myself in the comforts of five star hotel restaurants & malls.

Now eventually, I'm coaxed out of my shock and become accustomed to Delhi. Usually it is due to some emotional experience that reminds me the life I live in Chicago is not normal. It is not the way 90% of the world live. It is a privileged life. And so slowly I let real Delhi, real India back into my life.

One of those Emotional kick-in-the-pants experiences for me is Pardada Pardadi. And so, today, I am re-publishing an earlier post on Pardada Pardadi Educational Society in hopes that you two will take a moment to think about the life you don't lead. And please - think about giving back.

This past weekend, Sally and I paid a visit to Pardada-Pardadi Girls Vocational School in Anupshahr, Uttar Pradesh. Located near the Ganges River, the area is largely agricultural in nature.

The Pardada Pardadi Education Society (PPES) was established to provide education to girls who would not normally be afforded an opportunity to attend schools. Enrollment has exploded through a variety of novel programs including, guranteed job post graduation, 10 rupee placed in saving account for each day of school attended, and vocational training (in addition to academics).

Here are some shots of the school & Children.

To learn more about the school, visit