The following blog posts are from our various Student Fellows over the past years, reporting on their travels, research and projects funded or supported by the India China Institute at The New School.


  So our last stop of the trip was in Rishikesh.  I had wanted to go because of a recommendation to speak to Swami Shivanandji at Matri Sadan Ashram a bit on the outskirts of Haridwar, the next city over from Rishikesh, along the Ganga and also a holy city for pilgrimages.  I became interested read on

From the Bagmati to the Ganga

  The Bagmati River feeds into the Ganga.  I learned this after stalking all I could find about my mysterious neighbor.  The Bagmati runs through the area in which we have been living and our friends noticed that I am curious about it so they took me to Pashupatinath temple which lies on the banks read on


After Varanasi we found our way to Nepal as a respite from the at times unbearable chaos of India.  In addition to this, my travel partner and best friend,  Zoya had been wanting to reunite with family members she hadn’t seen in awhile.  Because of our proximity, we couldn’t resist and we are now staying read on


  On the last leg of our train ride to Varanasi (hour 12) I got my first glimpse of the Ganga. It was a reassuring feeling that my remote fascination had been realized into something truly great.  I intended to come to Varanasi to spend time with the Sankat Mochan Foundation after seeing all the work read on


Today I had a great experience at CSE (the Centre for Science and Environment).  A wonderful woman named Mahreen, the program director of the water team there, took time out of her day on short notice to sit down and extensively talk about what the water team does as well as explained key information about read on

Four Days Until Departure

No matter what the central construct to a city is, one lives in full awareness of it and it is not just there when you want or need it to be.  Whether it be a skyscraper or a river, its presence is intriguing to the functions of an ecosystem, in a broad sense of the word. read on

Preparations #1

My research proposal is based on the theory that the perceptions and definitions of gender in society have repercussions in health care policy and development. That is why, I want to comprehend how different groups of people understand gender in New Delhi, India, with the help of students and activists of organizations that work with read on

Returning to NYC as a CISLI Fellow

  Having lived in NYC while completing my doctorate at NYU, I returned to the city this past May as an India China Institute CISLI Fellow. Being in the city reminded me why I applied to be a CISLI Fellow and the unique combination of resources drawn together in the India China Institute. Prior to read on

homesick // sick of home

I believe this duality is shared by many. As we are in one place, we tend to miss another. My exploration this summer was quite eclectic, to say the least. It is not easy trying to narrow it down to functional organization and its relationship to the sense of home a place cultivates. Indeed, spatial read on

Art and locality – Ladakh

On Aug 13, we attended a local monastic festival and witnessed a beautiful ceremony of first having the site purified of obstacles. Then in the second part of the ritual having offerings in the honor of Padmasambhava by each one of the companions.  The most remarkable sacred art that we saw in Ladakh was at Alchi Monastery. read on

Retrospective: Pearl of the Orient

Looking back to my stay in Shanghai and feeling  little guilty for my delayed diary entry about it, I can’t help but feel a strange sense of nostalgia. The city, as advanced and cosmopolitan as it is, lingers on a heavy scent of history. Even its diversity stems from a geo-historical context. The Shanghai Urban Planning read on

Ladakh – Little Tibet

  Watching the rare documentary of The Yogis of Tibet offered a great insight into the ancient culture and practice of Tibetan throughout the years in Tibet and after their refuge to other regions. The hardship of their external environment allowed them to look inside and practice their daily rituals. The presence of Ladakhi military against read on

Ladakh Monasteries – Heaven on Earth

  I don’t even know how to put my experience in Ladakh in words. My days in Ladakh has been amazingly unbelievable. I had very little access to wifi every few days, so here is my belated post. Located by the Indus River and on the silkroad, Ladakh used to have an important strategic location, which read on

Gentle, Marketplace

Upon arrival in Suzhou, I went straight to the Urban Planning Centre. As I walked out of my uncle and aunt’s place (they so kindly put me up), I chanced upon this small alley and was immediately taken by its architecture. Narrow, vaguely occupied, and the sound of motorcycles — the alley connects to The read on

Temples and Diversity – New Delhi

  The more I stay in New Delhi, the more I feel the similarity between here and my hometown Tehran. I love that I can identify like this and go back to my traits before moving to the US. I had missed risking every minute of precious life walking across the streets and highways with read on

Taste of Home

The small independent shops may be gaining popularity in Williamsburg, where millennials who wish to stand out from the mainstream consumers patronize. Here, in the small town of Shantou, it is the backbone of many households, the fabric of neighbourhoods. This old beancurd store is a specialty in Shantou. It began with the owner selling read on

Tibet House and Ladakh Buddha Vihara – New Delhi

Visiting The Tibet House in New Delhi was indeed an experience. I once visited the museum of The Tibet House on the second floor, and was lucky to visit for the second time and attend a sacred ceremony of ‘Aspirational Bodhisattva Vow’ for the late Tsering Chungdak. It was such a different experience I’ve ever read on

Art Scene – New Delhi

  The weather has been amazing since the past week. It’s either super hot and humid or rain is pouring down as infinite blessing (both catched in the photo above, Aug 2 4:15 PM). Apparently based on Skymetweather Delhi’s Monsoon rains has broken record this past weekend since the last 10 years! Not carrying an read on

Chapter Eight: Beijing + Homeward Bound

Bullet trains are fun. But what’s even more fun is getting shanzhai’d. That’s me and Jordenn’s new word for being scammed, since it’s such a present theme in the narrative that is our trip. It’s actually not all that fun (clarifying just in case the sarcasm didn’t come across). We’ve been staying in Airbnb’s as read on

Parsi Fire Temple – New Delhi

  After two days of harsh showers and rain in New Delhi, I got access to wifi again and here is my delayed post. One of my favorite things about moving to New York was the cold winters. Although where I grew up in Iran, Tehran, we had four seasons and cold winters with snow, the read on

In The Grace of Nature

 It’s lotus season. The lotus farms i Shantou, Guangdong, have been blooming since late May. These farms not only serve as the city’s local resource for lotus seeds (which are eaten), but also a family destination during the weekends and summer vacation. The serene beauty is outlined narrow walkways framing each acre. I watched families read on

Chapter Seven: Shanghai

  If China and France were to have a child, but at an early age France walked out on the family and left China to raise it on its own, you’d be talking about modern Shanghai. Of course, China had a large impact on the little one as it grew up, but you can still read on

Chapter Six: Onward

  The other day Jordenn and I had the fortunate opportunity of meeting up with a fellow Parsons student in his home city of Hong Kong. He took us around some of his favorite spots to give us a taste of what China felt like across the border. Wow—leaving mainland was a huge wake-up call read on

Qutub Minar – Islam and Hinduism

I started exploring New Delhi by visiting the Qutb Complex located in the south of Delhi. The Qutub Minar was built as the marker of Muslims’ victory in the fourteenth century, and the complex included the tower for saying the prayer right next to the main corridor enclosing the outdoor prayer area. During the following read on

Arrival at New Delhi – Hauz Khas Village

  Last night at 9 pm, I finally landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. I was very nervous about getting off the plane, finding a taxi, and then finding the place I’m staying at Hauz Khas Village. Since I’m traveling alone, I was looking for a place in south Delhi, which seems to the read on

Chapter Five: Zooming In

  At this point in our trip, we’re truly starting to understand Shenzhen beyond the preliminary research we conducted before arriving—although I find it hard to believe that anyone could ever fully comprehend the nuances of daily life in a city of this size. I guess it’s less that we’re understanding the city and moreso just finally read on

From Tangra back to Tiretta Bazaar’s Chinatown

The Chinese street market in Kolkata is nowadays a Lonely Planet guide’s tourist attraction. It starts very early in the morning, and everything is packed before shops open – except for Sundays when it lasts longer. (But only on weekdays you can find open the Hip Hap shop, also mentioned in the tourist guide book, read on

ISRO: on resourceful science

June 22nd 2016, yet another great day for ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organization. At around 9:25AM in Sriharikota, 100km North of Chennai, the final commands were given in English. “Nine, eight, seven, six,” rows of frozen-focused scientists were monitoring the launch that would put twenty satellites into orbit in only one mission – a read on

Chapter Four: Exploring the Urban Villages

  Shenzhen’s urban villages are the foremost example of its citizens claiming their rights to the city—and their rights to produce the city. These uniquely Chinese urban landscapes are essentially small cities within the greater Shenzhen area. Some will define these areas as villages within the city, but that’s not quite sufficient. At 150,000 people, the self-contained urban village of read on

Journey to the Mumtaz Mahal

5:00 AM The journey from New Delhi to the Mumtaz Mahal in Agra is at least five hours. With one pit-stop between those five hours, and early on in the trip, it was hard to sit in one place for that long, but the view made up for it. I’m not talking about views of great read on

Food, business, and more in Tangra

My last post before flying to India was about the Chinese Indian cuisine in New York. Of course after arriving in Kolkata food was also part of my research. In my first visit to Tangra, I went to a restaurant owned by a Chinese Indian. I didn’t chose it randomly, though I could certainly do read on

Chapter Three: How We Accidentally Wandered into an Urban Village

  After 17 grueling hours of flights and about another 5 of struggling to get our hands on a hotel room key, we had finally made it to our (temporary) new digs in Luohu, Shenzhen. By the time I laid my head down onto the feather and rice filled pillow it was 4 AM—or 4 PM in read on

Homeland ties, culture celebrations, and overseas policy

The Chinese community in Kolkata celebrated last Sunday (July 26th) the first-all India dragon boat race. The event in Kolkata hallmarks more than just the race – it served the purposes of showing proud of the community, despite the fact that it has been decreasing over the decades, and of valuing the cultural encounters between the read on

Contemporary History

The city of silk and beauties, Suzhou has a similar storyline to Hangzhou. Yet, I find it more serene than the latter. Probably because it is also easier to get around with the absence of a lake puncturing the centre of the city. I must acknowledge that I have an almost insensible fondness for Suzhou. read on

Foreign, but feels like Home

  I am nearing the end of my third week here in India. These last three weeks have been nothing but eye-opening and phenomenal. I feel like words can’t describe the things I’ve felt and the struggles and victories I’ve had. It’s an experience one has to go through to know the ups and downs. read on

Rural ventures

It took us about two hours to get to Villupuram, one of the villages in Tamil Nadu where the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation is collaborating with SoCCS, the Social Capital Credits System, a program by Asia Initiatives. The idea is relatively simple but it requires some human infrastructure and capital to implement. Aiming at promoting read on

West Lake Story

Historically, this is the land of love stories, kings, heroes and mythical beauties (most famously war hero Fanli and legendary Great Beauty Xishi). Today, it is also known to be home of Ma Yun (aka Jack Ma), and the Alibaba empire and its affiliates. The contemporary context brings skyscrapers to the preserved landscape. The historical read on

Class rains

“Now it poured, a stinging rain. On the high grounds of the liquid city, rich people spoke of the romance of monsoon: the languorous sex, retail therapy, and hot jalebis that eased July into August. At Annawadi, the sewage lake crept forward like a living thing. Sick water buffalo nosed for food through mounds of read on

Transactionality and other experiments

In Mumbai, I had the pleasure of meeting Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty, two urbanists whose work I think opens up ways of talking about resourcefulness and technological improvisation that don’t fall immediately into the familiar narratives I highlighted here. Having met them through a friend, I got to visit two of their projects: the School read on

Talking about jugaad

Two very strong narratives prevail in discussions about jugaad – the colloquial Hindi term for quick fixes, hacks, and workarounds – as an innovation-generating practice. On the one hand, there is the repudiation of these improvised solutions on the basis that they’re not serious enough and only perpetuate corruption and mediocrity. In the gloomy spirit read on

IT Expressway after 7pm

After 7pm, the IT Expressway in the city of Chennai – the second largest exporter of software in India after Bangalore – gets transformed. The scene reminds of Lumière’s 19th century piece, but there are more workers and they’re all young and wear keycard necklaces and ride scooters or take autorickshaws. There’s street food, traffic, read on

There is cacophony

“Scores of churches were built in Velha Goa. There were, in fact, so many of them that there are on record letters written to the Vatican from the priests of churches here saying that ‘Their bells and our bells… Their choir and our choir… there is cacophony’.” (explanatory panel at Basilica of Bom Jesus, Old read on

You go, girl

Uxa is fifteen years younger than me, but we get along immediately. We ended up meeting her family after her father approached us at a grocery shop. He had heard us speaking in Portuguese, one of his five languages, and was eager to practice it – “we don’t get many tourists from Portugal in Goa.” read on

Made in Dharavi

Right in the heart of Mumbai, surrounded by a rising skyline of shiny buildings, is Dharavi, a more than one-hundred-year-old slum that is home to about one million people. Dharavi became famous after the movie Slumdog Millionaire, in which the young Jamal recalls his traumatic childhood as he answers questions on a TV show. A read on

Cultural Capital

I visited Wuzhen on a gloomy day. The moisture from the raindrops permeated my skin as my soaked feet trace the stone pavements of Wuzhen. Wuzhen, a preserved Ancient Town, is a manifestation of a Wuxia fantasy. One can imagine skipping from one roof to another, throwing darts to send signals. The river that carves read on

Chinese-Indian life in New York, or at least a taste of it

In my last week before departing to Kolkata, anxiety is a difficult element to control. But the best solution to this problem was not a complicated one to find. It was right there in Queens, in two locations: the Tangra Masala Asian Fusion Cuisine units in Elmhurst and Sunnyside. The exquisite Chinese-Indian cuisine is unique, read on

Himalayan Art

  At The Rubin Museum, I visited the Gateway to Himalayan Art a couple of weeks ago. The exhibition was curated by Karl Debreczeny and Elena Pakhoutova and offered a broad perspective on  the greater Himalayan cultural sphere and specifically the Art of Himalayan Mountain through introducing different materials and methods for producing their sacred read on

Drawing Near

The semester is ending and as my finals conclude one after another, my mind can draw more attention to my study that is about to commence. With advice from Professors Brian McGrath, David Leven and Lei Ping, I am in extremely good hands to execute my study of architecture, homeliness and homebuilding. This is an issue that read on

What makes a city a home?

What makes a city a home? As I continue refining my research question, I begin to dig into the heart of the problems I was looking at — the tension of history and progress. And in my lament over the loss of historical markings of a place in its becoming a city, I discover that read on

Still in NY

“Baboon and Young (1951) shows Picasso’s power of metaphorical transformation at its height. Now please look closer…” I stopped paying attention to the audio guide. Here I was in MOMA, trying to navigate a room swarmed with visitors speaking many different languages, and despite all the bustle and buzz I felt a pause, a little read on

Exploring The Sacred Art of Tibet

  My ticket to New Delhi and Ladakh is booked, and I’m super excited. I will be in New Delhi for two weeks, and then will be going to Ladakh for two weeks, at the far north of India next to Tibet. What I have been lately pondering about is the importance of actions for depicting read on

Kolkata’s three Chinatowns

This title is perhaps more a provocation than an accurate statement. It is probably truer to say that Kolkata has only one Chinatown in the central area – and it is dwarfing. Yet Kolkata does have three distinct areas that keep a close relation with the Chinese migrants and Chinese Indians of the city: Chinatown, read on

Geographies of improvisation

As a Ph.D. student in anthropology at the New School for Social Research, I have been developing a project about idioms of improvisation and ad-hoc repair in Brazil, and the ways in which these ideas have been taken up by designers, artists, and hackers to imagine alternative engagements with technology. What kind of society would this be read on

Chapter Two: The Right To Hack The City?

Can the city be hacked like an iPhone can? If the city is already produced, then is this actually the best way for urbanites to reclaim agency, rather than fighting for their ‘right to produce the city’? Clearly, Jordenn and I are still asking questions to try to get at the heart of our research question. read on

Urban Growth Patterns

After the insightful seminars held last weekend, I find myself asking new questions on my research and navigating it in new directions. Instead of trying to uncover the program adjacency of a village that may be developed into a steel-clad city like Shenzhen, why not look to urban developments that successfully retains their architectural heritage? This read on

Intro – Ethical Fashion

Hi everyone!  I want to start by introducing myself and give you a bit of background info about me. My name is Sophie and I am a Junior/Senior in Integrated Design at Parsons. I am a proud Canadian, originally from Toronto. I am really excited to be travelling to India this summer to conduct research through read on

Designing for Change

There are an estimated 20 to 65 million citizens in India trafficked into forced labor, according to the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. Of these, millions of women and children are victims of sex trafficking. This issue continues due to rises in increased mobility and growth in industries that use forced labor. Many of the read on

The big small

Ice white, glass windowed, with simple lines and square round corners. It could be just another high-tech gadget, but it’s a clay fridge. An affordable, durable, clay fridge that keeps water fresh, as well as perishables, without using electricity. Commercialized in India since the mid-2000s, the Mitticool was the result of ingenious make-do design. Many read on

How South America takes me to India

The story of my summer trip to India begins far from this country. In June and July I’m going to investigate the Chinese diaspora in India, especially in Kolkata; and yet this story does not begin in China either. It begins in the borderlands between Paraguay and Brazil, where I have been conducting my doctoral read on

Promised Land’s Limitations

From the beginning of human existence on earth, the surrounding seemed isolating, fearsome, and sometimes unforgivable. To attain some power over the outside conditions, we began projecting our hopes and furies to the presumed outside powers. Anything that looked bigger than ourselves, more powerful, and incomprehensible were assigned as mystical and divine. The relation humans read on

Chapter One: The Right To Produce The City

  How do one’s urban consumption habits affect the further development of their given city? Does what we buy on a regular basis have a hand in how we will live in the long-term? If so, then how does this development via consumer behavior take shape? How much say does the average urbanite have in read on

Why study cities?

The cities should not be understood in an isolated way. All countries in world try to create one or more cities to represent the former, acting as influential nodes in global community. In this way, cities can be shaped by state policies and embody the political purposes. In addition, some metropolises are overflowing from the read on

Shaxi Village: A Hometown

This is not my hometown, it is the neighbor to mine. I discovered the richness of this place — its artisan culture, the architecture, the agricultural context, the list goes on. As you can see from this Chinese documentary, the countryside allure of this village remains intact. However, it is also vulnerable to being “urbanized” read on

Jataka Tales – World of the Buddha

The Jataka Tales are native literature stories about Buddha’s previous lives in forms of human or animals. They’re mostly insightful and wise stories of how one should treat strangers and his loved ones. The interactions also include moral decision making and allows you to foresee the possible consequences. There are also some extreme stories of read on


Did you ever wonder what happens to your old cell phone when you recycle it? Sometimes electronics are immediately shredded into small pieces and sent out to be further sorted and processed into raw materials. But some phones are repaired and resold or salvaged for parts to fix another phone. And one epicenter in the read on

Urban Villages

What is an urban village? The term seems to defy an exact definition as each urban village has a different story of its founding, development and current use. While in Shenzhen, I visited four different urban villages and each had a very different context and management system. But some features they all shared was existing read on

Dalang and Dafen

I ended my time in Guangzhou a bit short so that I could attend a discussion led by members of ICI and the Design Center of Shenzhen at the UABB Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture. The discussion was a really incredible introduction to urbanism and scholarship in Shenzhen through presentations of projects by the Shenzhen Design read on

Waste Management in Guangzhou

While observing the waste management of Guangzhou I was most surprised by how similar it is to the American system. In Guangzhou, residents and businesses place their waste into bins on the curb. From what I can tell waste is separated into recyclables, kitchen waste (compostable) and all other waste. Then, garbage trucks come by read on

Nansha New Area

Nansha turned out to be a very intriguing urban situation. My first morning I was awoken by the sounds of construction out the window and it seemed to persist for the duration of my stay. The whole district seems to be under construction and new developments are everywhere. My friend said that when she first read on

Hong Kong and Ferry Ride

After over 17 hours of air travel, one bus and a ferry, I have arrived in China. I first arrived in Hong Kong and took the bus over the longest rail and car suspension bridge in the world from the airport to Kowloon where I stayed for the night. The next day I basically only read on


Today, I took a lovely trip to Hangzhou, another nearby city. I originally planned to go with an American friend I met at my hostel but a friend from ECNU kindly connected me with her friends who study in Hangzhou; they offered to be my guides for the day. After much confusion and walking back read on

Thugs in a Temple!? WTF!?

Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal Interesting experience. I met with a Brahmin priest upon my arrival who informed me of the rules: as a foreigner, I must pay an entrance fee and I am also not allowed in, since I am not Nepali nor am I Hindu. My friend, who is Nepali and Hindu, got in read on

“Persons who are engaged in such work not only do good to themselves but also promote the welfare of others” –S.S.A

Such stimulating conversations post dinner…we had to take photos as a marker of good times.                 Photos taken by C.Crews read on

Why are all the most beautiful things in nature the most dangerous at times?

Made it to Nepal! The view of the Himalayas flying into Nepal is what dreams of made of. I mean, pure beauty. I was in awe of its magnitude and utter divine beauty. The ice caps reaching beyond the clouds and the vision of whites, blues, greys from the distance is indescribable. You must see read on

Today: rainy, messy but informative + fun

Today was my last day visiting the Minhang Campus and it was off to an interesting start. I think most of my further day trips are off to interesting/unfortunate/scary starts…I like it though. Not only could I not find a taxi from the metro station in the pouring rain, but I was also already twenty read on

Day Seventeen: Sanchi…Buddhalicious

  Oh man, what a trip! Pure beauty. Whoever crated this earth, he or she did a darn magnificent job—because even excrescences are beautiful. The landscape changed drastically from urban industrious and polluted to green, scenic, peaceful and natural. It was night and day in a matter of miles/minutes, well, kilometres, over here miles is read on

Day Sixteen: “How Swift Thy Sword” (Hero, 2002)

I watched Hero, again, and loved every minute of it…hence the title of today’s post. I visited the mosque today intimidating…different language, different culture, and different religion. What is one to do but to sit in awe at mankind and the varied spaces we co-habit? On the way out, I bought some essential oils, and read on

Day Fifteen: Transitions—time and space…Kant where are you when we need you!?

  I spent time at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital yesterday. Oh man. I got to shadow a physician who is specialized in cancer. He was also training a junior physician, so I got to a see a lot – doctor-trainee, trainee-patient, and doctor-patient. Cancer is a helluva thing – some patients will die and others, read on

Day Fourteen: Philosophy as a Way of Life

I went to Old Market and shopped for fruits and veggies. It was raining so my trip was short. It is raining now as I write this post. I am having a cup of Tulsi tea and assorted fruit for breakfast. Today, I meet with Dr. Pandey at Bhopal Memorial Hospital. I will get the read on

Day Thirteen: Kite Runner

  It has been years since I flew a kite but I did just that yesterday. It was a moment of nostalgia and utter excitement. I felt like a little boy for that short duration—the eagerness of the kids to show me how it is done Indian style was exhilarating. I wanted to prove to read on

Day Eleven and Day Twelve: ‘I Share Your Love’

 He was caught of guard — he was laughing and smiling right before this…I think we surprised him with the flash. Haaha (Peter, I know you’ll enjoy this one). I am watching a clinic employee feed the fish in the pond downstairs as I type. Like I said, everything here is connected and holistic—parts all read on

Day Ten: A NEW Day Has Come…

This morning, I would like to start off with one of my favourite quotes. I found it a few years ago whilst living in San Francisco and every year that goes by, I grow more doting and enamoured by it. It goes a something like this: Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the read on

Waiting for the flight from New Delhi to Bhopal — my airport brother from Bhutan.

  People you meet once can change the way you see yourself and the world around you. I now have a brother-friend — thanks New Delhi/Air India. I hope to see you soon, Namgayal.     read on

Day Nine: Sandalwood, Kurta, and a Rickshaw = Atiba’s in Heaven!

I finally found sandalwood after a few days search!!! (Yes, Lex, I will be bring some for Ava, she’ll smell charming). I had a meeting with the director of the clinic yesterday and another meeting with him today. There is also the staff meeting happening this evening (I think I mentioned in the beginning that read on

The ancient town and gardens of Suzhou

Despite Shanghai being an absolutely mesmerizing city, staying there for a while can leave one feeling a bit locked in. After some emotional turmoil on a Friday night, I decided I needed to do something completely different when I wake up. Buying a plane ticket to Beijing for the next morning sounded exciting but too read on

Union Carbide Tour—ghost of Decembers past

It’s 4 am in Bhopal. I am up doing prep work for later today. A few of us will be taking a guided tour of the Union Carbide site @ 11 am. Afterward, we will walk around the colonies directly affected by the gas leak of 1984 and the subsequent contaminated water. I know it read on

Compassion in the most random of places…

Song of the Day: “Dance with my Father” by Luther Vandrose. This comes from a conversation I had yesterday with a survivor of the Bhopal Gas Leak in 1984. View read on

Day Eight: Do you have any Indian Sandalwood Oil? I cannot find sandalwood anywhere, ugh!!!

Today’s agenda: (1) visit the permit office to tour Union Carbide; (2) first round of interviews with staff/administration and doctors; (3) visit the Old Market. Thought for the day: “Hurry to your own directing mind, to the mind of the Whole, and to the mind of this particular man. To your own mind, to make read on

Museum Visit: Remember Bhopal Museum

Here is one photo. I will upload more later (the internet is slow tonight). Every photo gives the option of listening to the victim’s testimony in Hindi or English, hence the receiver. Here is a link: read on

Day Seven: Snakes on a Plane – or no, I mean, snakes in the garden

Before coming to India I binged on a Nat Geo docu-series on Netflix called Wild India, woof, hoping to get accustomed to the sights, sounds, and creatures that roam these parts; however, no matter how much one mentally prepares for something like this it is always a shock when you find out that you share read on

Day Six: What is Ethnography? Is it like, ethnic geography or somethin’?

  Being an ethnographer you are required to be in situations deviant from the (your) norm.  You find yourself in places studying people and things that are foreign, some may even use the contaminated and politically charged word ‘exotic’—personally, I like the word exotic, it’s you know, well, exotic! As my friend Brad mentioned, travellers read on

Sexist norms: We know they exist, but we can’t change them ourselves! Who will then?

I cannot believe I have been in Shanghai for over two weeks. It feels like I have left USA merely a few days ago. I think that I have finally adjusted to this city and love it just as much as the last one – and surprisingly, I no longer feel eager to come back read on

Day Five: Buddha is Peeing Bullets—aka, it’s raining…after all, ‘tis monsoon season

I went to one of the local malls that is a fifteen minute ride in a tuk tuk, man, what an experience! ‘twas a scene movies are made off. The organized chaos of traffic and driving in these parts leaves me gasping for air—it is both fear and excitement…it is electric. I was accompanied by read on

Day Four: Henry David Thoreau Would Be Proud!

I am having a cup of Indian green tea on the veranda, reading the Stoic philosophy of antiquity, listening to the rain fall and the dogs bark in the distance. It is a beautiful thing to wake up and have nature greet you…the fresh smell of morning air and the wetness of the ground—something this read on

Day Three: Morning Prayers and Bespoke Kurta

Day Three: Morning Prayers and Bespoke Kurta  I drank caffeine last night at the soiree and was unable to sleep peacefully throughout the night—caffeine affects me, extremely. It’s four fifty-one in the morning and I cannot sleep and had an amazing idea so I leap from my bed and head straight to my laptop to read on

Day Two: Rickshaws, Indian Rum and Cattle, Yeehaw!

“I’m in India,” the reality sits in and not just India, but Bhopal, India. The site of the 1984 chemical disaster that lives on today. I arise from my horizontal state of lucid dreaming and into an upright posture of excitement and gratitude, with an internal thought: “What now?” After I applied insect repellent, I read on

Day One: 24 Hours Later—where is my plane!?

Day One: 24 Hours Later—where is my plane!?   After leaving my apt in NYC on Monday, July 20th @ noon, I arrive at my boarding in Bhopal, India, shortly before midnight on Tuesday, July 21…now you do the Math. Once in Bhopal, the ride from the airport was a bit troubling only because I read on

Let’s talk about sex ed!

As I spend more time in Shanghai, my field notes are exploding – they grew from from 5 to 20 pages in the past week! The best part is that I am getting this much valuable information in interviews as short as half an hour. Today was quite a hectic day in the Minhang campus. read on

First post from Bhopal, India.

My first post from Bhopal is the letter I sent in November of 2014. In order to understand where I m and where I hope to go, this e-mail will give a narrative. It will give an idea as to the things to follow and what interests me and why I am on this trip. read on

7/2–Zaijian Hong Kong

My time in Hong Kong is now over, Ive departed the island, but my personal travel fun can now begin as I’m headed to Taiwan to attend a wedding and see old friends enroute back to the US. Looking back, my researching weeks in Hong Kong flew by so fast. At times it was hard, read on

6/22–Long Hours in the Library

Pretty hard to believe how much time has passed already here in Hong Kong. Working solitarily in a library for weeks on end with few interlocutors or friendly faces can be a little isolating at times, but still fun. Ive had a chance to sit in a few guest lectures here on various topics in read on

6/17–Sai Kong

Ventured over to Sai Kong today—the famous fishing village tourist spot known for its seafood and access to the beaches that dot the small islands throughout Hong Kong bay. The scenery is great, but everyone, like me, comes here for the seafood. Its quite the site, so many different kinds of fish, all alive (barely) read on

6/15–The Green Side of Hong Kong

Wanted to share all of these great pictures of the green side of Hong Kong not normally seen or associated with touristy ventures to this island. Im a pretty avid hiker when I have the chance and Ive been really happy to find a pretty amazing network of old and (mostly) well trodden trails that read on

6/10–Into the Archives

Ive been here a week already, which seems pretty crazy. I must admit, my plans for an intensive trip to the archives in Hong Kong during the beautiful summer months, from a library that overlooks stunning mountains and ocean, has been a little tough to swallow at times since being outside looks so great. Nonetheless, read on

6/3–Hong Kong is Hot!

Hong Kong is hot! After a grueling 31 hour journey I finally made it to the Hong Kong and my room at CUHK. Turns out I have an awesome view and an air conditioner that works really well—what a relief. When I arrived last night around 11pm, it was 90 degrees with about 90% humidity. read on

5/25–Heading to Hong Kong

Heading off to Hong Kong in a week to begin my research trip. I’ll be spending almost four weeks at the Chinese University of Hong Kong where I can use the bountiful Universities Services Center (USC) that holds a giant trove of Chinese Communist era newspapers, magazines, books and collections. It might not sound exciting read on

Reading Material for the Flight

I received my copy of Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set A watchman, in the mail today. This book will keep me company on the 13-hour flight from JFK to New Delhi, during my four hour layover, and with me on the 1.5-hr flight from New Delhi to Bhopal (I will pack Harper Lee’s To read on

India Prep

I receive a monthly copy of National Geographic Explorer magazine and this month’s cover story is this: I read the article as part of my prep work prior to arriving in India. I wanted to share the link with you and hopefully, have you read it. I will be travelling light — backpack, messenger bag, and read on

First Post

I depart for India on Monday, the 20th of July. This is my first post and will be posting regularly once I arrive in India. I will add another post this weekend with photos. Dharma Love, -Atiba   read on


One week in, and I cannot fathom how spectacular of a city Shanghai is. Being inside Pudong New Area at dusk is a truly magical experience even for the well-traveled (which I am not). At one point, I even encountered a thought that Pudong may be more beautiful than Hong Kong! Shanghai is a true read on
Shanghai downtown summer 2013

Beginnings of Research…

I have been in Shanghai for only a few days but I already see vast differences everywhere. Part of me miserably longs for Hong Kong, and part of me is fascinated by Shanghai’s culture and looking forward to conducting my research. One thing that struck me on my first day here is the prevalence of read on

Hong Kong Reflections

As ridiculous as this sounds, the past five days I have spent in Hong Kong were probably some of the best days I have ever had. All of my fears about sadness and loneliness disappeared as soon as I arrived at my hostel. They weren’t even options due to its small size and the family-like read on

China in a month!

I cannot believe my departure is this close, time really does fly! I am feeling really overwhelmed with planning at this point, but I am trying to turn this feeling into excitement. I narrowed down potential hostels and will be finishing booking accommodations in just a few days – I decided to ditch private rooms read on

Further China Preparations!

My trip is getting closer and closer, I will be leaving for China in nearly two months! I purchased my plane ticket and I am currently working on getting my Chinese visa along with setting up housing accommodations. Even though I will be in Shanghai for the majority of my stay, I decided to fly read on

First Post – The Beginning of My Preparations!

My excursion to Shanghai is becoming so much more real and exciting as I search for plane tickets and housing accommodations. I finalized my research topic last week after several consultations with different people given that the topic of gender can be a sensitive one in China. My plan is to meet and spend time read on

Before India

It was less than 48 hours before my flight left and I was standing at Cox and Kings Visa Application Centre asking for my visa for the 5th time that week. It was time to enter into panic mode. I knew if I didn’t get my visa by tomorrow I would miss my flight, and read on

Post Series by ICI Student Fellow Kate Wallace

Recently our Student Fellow Kate Wallace embarked on a journey to India to explore the link between healthcare access and technology as well as healthcare access for poverty stricken communities in New Delhi. Throughout her journey, Kate kept a journal noting the memorable moments and learning experiences from her trip. Over the next few weeks, we will read on

Reflections on The Caste System in India

 I would like to take a second and reflect on what I have learned about the caste system in India. I came here thinking it was a thing of the past but it is still very present in todays society in a lot of ways. I have been told that money has become more important read on

Visiting Sew New Futures Centre

I just finished wiping cake off my face but it was totally worth it. What an amazing day. I got to with Kristin from Sew New Futures to the centre and meet the girls and learn more about their work there. It was a really eye opening experience. I learned a lot and it was read on

Interview with COSA

I had an interesting Skype meeting with the Childrens Organization of South-East Asia today. They are based in Thailand, so not in India but I felt they did relevant work to some of the things I’ve started to look deeper into. I’ve become very interested in education as a means of fixing some of India’s read on

Sew New Futures

When I went to interview Kristin Braddock, founder of NGO Sew New Futures, I was prepared with a list of questions to ask her in my notebook. But I knew exactly what I wanted to ask first: How on earth did a girl who grew up in the middle of Manhattan end up working full read on

India & Infrastructure

Erica is a student at Berkeley and has been in India for the past studying the building “smart cities.” My first question for her was: what is a smart city? Smart cities are designed to use technology to enhance the lives of it’s citizens. She has been talking with people in the transportation industry, clean water companies, read on

Interview: A Tourist in India

I was supposed to meet Erica in person for coffee today but was busy with her head in the toilet. She can now officially tick “dehli belly” off of her list of India experiences. Despite being ill she was kind enough to take the time to speak to me over Skype about her experience being read on

Being a Girl in India

The subway in India is unlike anything I have ever seen. People say the New York metro is bad, but my goodness it is nothing compared to the subway in Delhi. I take the F train from my apartment in New York, which is often crowded in the mornings. The train will go past full read on


Right now I’m sitting in the airport waiting for my flight. It is delayed, which is nothing new by now, the winter fog seems to disrupt all flights here. I’m a bit nervous because this is apparently the worst fog Udaipur has seen in the last 10 years, although everyone I ask gives me a read on

Agra & Jaipur

 I really expected the foreigners I met on this trip to be more interesting. Everyone always talks about all the cool people they met backpacking through country x, y or z. They had deep late night conversations about the meaning of life and their life stories and it was a life changing experience. I don’t read on

A Look Into India's Healthcare

Walking into the hospital in Delhi felt like walking into a large luxury hotel. There was marble floors, a movie theatre, a fountain and a Baskin and Robbins. It was very luxurious and felt more like somewhere people come to unwind or go to business conferences than come when they are sick. I feel like read on

Arriving At My New Home in Delhi

I originally had accommodation plans to stay in the guesthouse of an American family in Delhi. I quickly realized once I got to India that I would learn a lot more by living with an Indian family to entirely submerge myself in the culture here. One of boys I work for offered to let me read on

Goa and Interesting Characters

 I met with my first doctor last night. It was not at all what I expected. She was a young girl doing her residency in Bangalore. She graduated top 5 in her class in medical school, but talked about wanting to become a model and Bollywood actress. She asked me to keep her name private read on

Arriving in Delhi

I was warned that getting off the plane and to a car would be one of the most overwhelming experiences of my life. I was told no one would speak english, it would be incredibly crowded and I had to guard my money and purse. As the plane landed the butterflies in my stomach grew read on

Chat n Chai: 2014 Student Fellows share their research and travel experiences

Each year ICI provides six New School students with a travel and research grant to study in India or China. Students work in the field and conduct academic research. The 2014 cohort of Student Fellows joined us in a special Chat n’ Chai series focussing on their work. East student discussed their research methodology and read on

They’re not as serene as they seem to be

Recently had the opportunity to be published in the Hindustan Times as the co-author of an op-ed developed with Francesca Cespi Feruglio during my time with Nazdeek as part of my research fellowship with India China Institute. Colonial-era labour structures, faulty trade union practices and corporate greed are responsible for unjust wages…  The current state of the plantations is nothing read on

Hope through music

  Dharavi, being one of the biggest slums in the world, has many challenges regarding waste management, transportation, garbage disposal, and clean water. Clearly, families living in Dharavi cope with this situation by taking part in traditional and ludic activities such as praying, dancing, singing, and celebrating religious holidays. While working at Dharavi, we were read on

Interviews at Govandi

Our visit to the Govandi music centre was very productive and proactive. We met with the dance tutor, Sachin and witnessed a remarkable dance session with the children. Having experienced yesterday the Dahihandi festival (or Govinda sport) in the streets of the Mahalaxmi area, it is clear that dance and music is key to their read on

Trip to the Lotus Temple

For my last afternoon in Delhi, I wanted something calm and relaxing so I headed south to the Baha’i Lotus Temple, an astounding piece of modern architecture. I had the opportunity to walk the grounds, learn a bit about the Baha’i faith, and sit in on a service. Baha’i works to find the unity in read on

A view of Mumbai

Throughout the weekend, since it was mainly about Independence Day, most governmental institutions and venues were closed except museums and other tourist sights. Considering filming and shooting without permission in Mumbai is against the law, due to the 2008 terrorist attacks, getting footage for the project has been quite a challenge. Most of the footage read on

Trip to Red Fort and Jantar Mantar

After an exciting three weeks of work with Nazdeek and a day of celebrating Indian Independence on the 15th, I took a trip to the famous Red Fort, the walled residence of Mughal emperors from the 15th to the 17th century. On the way over, however, I stopped at Jantar Mantar, a fascinating architectural complex designed for astrological read on

Sounds from Govandi

Govandi has many things to offer. After the day spent at the Dharavi slum Mewsic center, we traveled east to Govandi, where the other music center is located, and where other children attend. Govandi is mainly known for the surrounding waste dump, one of the three that Mumbai has. It also offers a diverse palette read on

Trip to Humayun's Tomb

After my last day of work with Nazdeek, I decided to take a sunset trip to Humayun’s Tomb, just 10 minutes via auto from my office. Humanyun’s Tomb is precursor to the Taj by about 100 years, but the two possess many architectural similarities. A beautiful site to say the least. Below are the photos from read on

Every Mother Counts: Storytelling to Combat Maternal Mortality in India

As part of their ongoing mission to bring access to justice closer to marginalized communities in India, Nazdeek was recently awarded a Grant from Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. In India, 50,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth related causes every year; this accounts for 17% of read on

Sounds from Dharavi

Even though the jet lag has finally caught up with me, every detail from Mumbai boosts the adrenaline. Yesterday was a very exciting day. I met the staff at Mewsic. Andres (program manager), Astrid (programming assistant), Elise (Head of Programming), Nandita (director), among other interns and technical assistants. We talked mainly about the impressions I’ve read on

Mumbai arrival

After almost 22 hours of flying and traveling, I’ve arrived to Mumbai. The first few  hours served to acknowledge the place, the smells, the language, the chaotic movement, rickshaws, taxis, cows, sounds, views, rain, fog, contrasts and people. Amazing. It clearly comes with an overwhelming sense of globalisation and culture shock. In many ways, I find several read on

A Trip to Qutb Minar

With the day off from work, I decided to take a trip to South Delhi and visit the Temple Complex of Qutb Minar. While I love the advocacy media work I am currently engaged in with Nazdeek, it was nice to have the afternoon to focus on simple tourist media, and I couldn’t have asked read on

Assam Wage Campaign: Income Breakdown

Continuing on with my work for Nazdeek creating visuals for their current campaign to assist tea plantation workers in Assam, India, push for an increased minimum wage, I was tasked with creating an infographic that shows what portion of tea workers wages are deducted–unlawfully–from their net income versus what they are entitled to according to minimum read on

Assam Wage Campaign: Income Comparison

Nazdeek is currently involved with an ongoing campaign to increase the minimum wage on tea plantations in Assam, India. Due to colonial-era wage policies, tea corporations have been able to pay workers only 94 rupees per day, roughly $1.57 USD. Nazdeek has done significant work and research in this area and they hoped to develop an infographic to read on

Maternal Health Workshop

On August 3rd, Nazdeek brought together 25 passionate community members from two informal houing settlements–Gole Market and Nangloi–to kickstart training programs dedicated to advancing the maternal health rights of women living in these slums. I had the opportunity to document the workshop: read on

The Responsibility of Representation

All forms of media representation are simplifications of a real world object for the sake of conveying information. From maps, to icons, to photographs and even language, representations serve to summarize something in order to convey complex information in a concise and understandable way. Without representations conversations would be completely impossible; we could have no read on

To Do List

In the process of planning my research project and experiencing my first few days in Delhi, I am starting to learn that adaptability is a crucial capability for working (and living) in India. Due to a change in schedule, the project I had planned on assisting with during my time in Delhi has been pushed read on

Mewsic – close to Mumbai

Only two weeks to go before I head to Mumbai. Besides working, I’ve been preparing for the trip, along with some logistical details. I recently got my vaccines and immunization shots updated, and little by little have been buying some useful ‘accessories’ for traveling. Regarding research, I’ve been in contact with the main collaborator in read on

Tourist Prices: Dual Pricing for a Good Cause?

The first time, I encountered the concept of a “tourist price” in India was by coincidence. My wife and I went to buy a leather bag in one of the many leather stores in Mumbai. My wife is from Mumbai, which proved to be significant. After a short look on the tag, the vendor gave read on

Taj Mahal: Global Icon and Local Economies

The Taj Mahal is stunning, beautiful and breathtaking. I chose a trip to this world-famous tomb, as it is India’s most recognizable tourist site, a true global icon and vivid part of the global imaginary. The Taj Majal, situated in the city of Agra, the former Mogul seat of power just three train-hours outside of read on

On the Indian Railway: Into a better future?

Taking the Indian Railway is a fantastic experience! I have to say this, even though the train I took from Delhi to Agra for my 2.5 hour journey was  actually quite a boring business train. Equipped with mostly higher class “chair cars,” it had neither the almost iconic overcrowded commuter cars, nor the luxury cabins. read on

Notes from New Delhi

Since Sunday evening, I am New Delhi. It is hot here. Actually when I looked at the global temperature map, one could think this is the hottest place on earth right now. What I celebrated as the coming of the monsoon in Mumbai, has clearly not reached the north (nor did it actually last in read on

Monsoon has (hopefully) arrived

Today the rains came to Mumbai. A few showers in the night, more rain in the afternoon and a heavy downpour in the evening are signs that the meteorologist’s predictions might be right this time and the wish of over a billion people will comes true: Monsoon is coming. The tension in Mumbai over the read on

Doing Field Work – Mumbai Style

People say New York is fast, but in terms of interview appointments Mumbai proved to work on light-speed. My research here is taking me into the tourism industry, the government organizations managing the production of the tourist destination India, and last but not least to some iconic sites to track tourists. I decided to start read on

First Encounters: Tourist Interfaces of India

A few days ago, I touched ground at Mumbai International Airport. Like most flights from the USA/Europe, I arrived in the night. The hours after midnight here are actually some of the most busy ones: Passengers hustle through security to catch their flights to Amsterdam or Singapore, while on the lower level streams of passengers rush read on

Update: Research on Garment Workers in Southern China and Cambodia

Creating Self Identity Through Clothing Choices: a study of female garment workers in Southern China and Cambodia Overview We all make choices about what we wear. These decisions may be subconscious but most often the decisions are intentional. Our clothing says something about who we are and where we come from. Clothing also indicates social read on

Thinking about India Elections

Before I will finally go to India, I have a close eye on the unfolding events around the general elections. Indians are already voting for the Parliament and their new Prime Minister (elections take over a month). When I will enter India in June, the country will have a new parliament and most likely a new read on

The “Third World” Trope: Avoiding Undertones of Neocolonialism in International Advocacy Media

Advocacy media is an undeniably effective way to start a dialogue around issues of social inequality and discrimination, but has the potential for detrimental misrepresentation when done tactlessly. While effective media campaigns can raise awareness of issues on a global scale, the fear of falling into the “Sally Struthers” trope of dehumanizing your subjects is always read on

India, documentaries, and more.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I’m really looking forward to know about Indian culture and its music. I’m interested in how locals, specifically in Mumbai relate to their portrayed identity, as understood within the concept of Bollywood, media creation, and music. I started to gain ground on viewing documentaries that talk about the intersection read on

Exciting New Blog explores Non-Western Approaches to the World

The students in ICI Faculty Committee and New School Professor L.H.M. Ling’s course, “Non-Western Approaches to the World”, organized a research initiative that provides deeper engagement in re-imagining international relations today. An Evening on the The Silk Road  serves  as a context to learn about alternative ideas of what comprises international relations. Professor Ling’s class  selected read on

Urbanization and Globalization: The Consumption Reality of China and the Adidas Group

This summer I will stay in Shanghai for about a month to conduct my research. During my stay in Shanghai, I would like to deepen my research on the dynamics of the Asian and Chinese market. Thanks to globalization and the Open Door Policy the Chinese population has been able to reach out to different read on

Migrants in the Archives

In a little less than two months, I will travel to some of the main commercial centers and transport hubs (of both people and goods) of the late nineteenth-early twentieth century: Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guandong. I intend to access archival materials and museum collections that may contain information on both the commercial activities and read on

Preparing for Mumbai

Summer is slowly approaching, and little by little India is becoming a reality. India, its culture, its music, and its people have been in the back of my mind for quite some time now. I’ve had wonderful conversations with people who express their admiration and broad array of cultural elements in India. This has helped read on

Summer Research Fellow: Storytelling for Social Change

This past week I was fortunate enough to confirm plans for my summer research project with Nazdeek, a Delhi-based NGO focusing on applying human rights frameworks to improve the lives of marginalized communities in India. Originally, I contacted Nazdeek because of their work with women, hoping for an interview regarding the current status of the read on

Research in China and Cambodia

For my research on labor identity of female garment workers I will be heading to Hong Kong, Southern China and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I’ve chosen these locations because of their strong ties to the global garment manufacturing industry. For decades Hong Kong tailors have been revered for their meticulous attention to detail and fine craftsmanship. read on

2014 Student Research Fellows Blog About Their Summer Research Experiences

The six recipients of the Starr Foundation Student Research Fellowships are preparing to embark on their travels. Each student received a $3,000 study/research grant to support an independent study project or to defray the cost of attending a New School Program in India, China, or the Himalaya region. As of March 25th the students will read on

Preparing for India Summer Research

I just purchased my flight to India for June to August. Getting really excited. Thanks for ICI to support me with the Summer Research Grant for students. I will fly to Mumbai and I planning research stays in New Delhi and a possible trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra. My research is about the read on

Update from Xining, Qinghai

“‘Nomads’, I want to visit nomads.” Xining, the capital of the Qinghai Province in China is considered a pit-stop for backpackers traveling to Lhasa and moving further on to trek at the base of the Himalayas and then going on to visit Tibet, Nepal and India. Approximately, it takes around a week or two depending read on

Kunming Adventures…!

The past two weeks were exciting for the Mobility and Livelihood Group. After interviewing more urban villagers and exploring Kunming, we decided that the most feasible way to narrow our research topic is to focus on the impact of migration for migrant workers in the food industry. In particular, we thought it would be interesting read on

The Roof of The World

Whenever I am visiting a new place, I like to look at the geological statistics of the place which is not limited to the climate conditions, especially in an exciting ecosystem like the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau. Although my area of study revolves around climate change, environmental vulnerabilities and anthropogenic impacts on the environment, much of read on

Preparing for China

I’m excited as my time in China approaches. In preparation, I’ve bought 100 rolls of Kodak Portra 400 (ISO) color film for the two film cameras I plan to bring. I have also been researching used lenses for I am finding that lenses that are more compact (smaller) bring less attention to my camera and read on

An overview of my team’s work- written from the Darjeeling days

The 2012 India China Knowledge and Capacity Building Initiative began on July 21st in Kunming China. The program is an innovative multi-cultural collaboration between emerging scholars of three countries: India, China, and America. There are six teams, comprised of a participant from each country. Each team is given a broad topic that is unpacked and read on

Chengdu and Sichuan

My intuition was correct that I would find a more immersive experience in Chengdu than in Beijing. Ir started with the flight from Beijing to Chengdu.  Instead of flying out of the large capital airport, my travel agent booked me a slightly cheaper ticket to the Nanyuan airport in the south of the city.  This read on

Habitat for Humanity – Sichuan Province

My attempt to write one post dealing with my Chengdu experience and my Habitat experience has failed, so I’m breaking them up into pieces to get it all out there.  And to think I haven’t even started on my current location of Xi’an yet! These are some of my guiding project questions for Habitat for read on


I’ve waited far too long to update here on my academic project and experiences in Sichuan, so while I continue to work on that several page long entry, here is a fun aside from my visit to the Chengdu Panda Research Base today. These photos are from early this morning around 8:30am when they are read on
Kunming market

Colorful Kunming

Since last 13 days I stay in Kunming, it really a colorful experience for me. Life here take a shape like a fair. For my project work daily I meet lots of new people, lots of new thinking, lot  of fresh aspiration. It is a really a huge learning experience for me. Kunming people life read on

Xu Jia’s new hope

When the dream suddenly come ? Last time you climbMeiliSnowMountainwith a lot of strange Tibetan people, you stand at the top of one mountain , a sea level of 3500m. That moment you can seize your own freedom, which seems like all dreams can come true. And this time ,after today’s interview , your heart read on

Xu Jia's new hope

When the dream suddenly come ? Last time you climbMeiliSnowMountainwith a lot of strange Tibetan people, you stand at the top of one mountain , a sea level of 3500m. That moment you can seize your own freedom, which seems like all dreams can come true. And this time ,after today’s interview , your heart read on

Mushrooms in translation

Hi all! I want to share this section of my fieldnotes. Rather than description, it is my analysis. It is very much a thought in progress, so I would love any feedback! A description of mushrooms and mushroom sellers at a Kunming market Analysis: There are two important variables concerning mushroom sellers in Kunming’s farmers read on

You Never Could Wake A Person Who is Pretending to be Asleep

I was working carefully on my final paper when the postman called me to get the parcel. It is a book from my best friend Chen. The cover of the book is very simple and clean, I like the design of this book. There is a sentence at the back of the book: “in some read on

Dian Lake and the Gateway to South East Asia

Apologies for the lateness of this post, I was out of town and didn’t have net access. Friday morning I managed to pull myself out of bed around 7:30.  I stumbled my way to the dining hall, eager for some steamed buns and a heaping bowl of boil-them-yourself noodles and broth.  As I slurped up read on

Talk about why I choose this topic

Time really flies. It have been eight days past, and I want to explain why I chose this topic. I think having a well-defined set of objective will give me a hand to complete this research program. Firstly, many people work hard to earn money for their family’s living, and the house is one of read on


Aloha! Welcome to Kunming, friends! How is your stay in the town? It has already been a week since we’ve met with each other. And I’m really looking forward for the following 7 weeks that we can work and talk and have fun all the way together. I’m pretty sure that we will find more commons read on

In search of “US”!

They may not be written, articulated, or learned even, but with kindness, tolerance, and a sincere respect towards the host, one can easily feel at home in Kunming, as I have. Having never been to Asia, I was looking forward to a major culture shock. An environment, a culture, and language so different from the read on

In search of "US"!

They may not be written, articulated, or learned even, but with kindness, tolerance, and a sincere respect towards the host, one can easily feel at home in Kunming, as I have. Having never been to Asia, I was looking forward to a major culture shock. An environment, a culture, and language so different from the read on

Coming to Kunming

Its a candid feeling to reside in Kunming from few days.The weather is very romantic here. Greenery, fog, cold wind everything reminds one thing that, ‘Kunming is really the city of spring’. The night-life of Kunming is very charming here. People from different country, culture, language are roamed everywhere. The ambience of cultural ally is read on

kunming the city of diversity.

As a participant of this ICKCBI programme I feel very fortunate that I have got a life time opportunity to visit Kunming the capital of Yunnan Province. The experience is Unique as there is inter mingling of diversified culture, their dresses their food really attracts me. In fact we are learning a lot from the read on

kolkata to kunming

it has been one of the finest experiences and i really feel priviledged to be a part of this fellowship program. working with some of the other fellows from china and the states is really a knowledgeable one. i am looking forward to do some good work. read on
Group Love@the Green Lake Park

Grey Kunming!

I don’t really know where to begin and how to start to tell the adventure that I started on June 21st. After a tiring,long flight and several long layovers in boring airports, I arrived at Kunming. The first thing that I confirmed in my head was that “ yes, there were a lot of people read on

india to yunnan journey so far…………….suman chakraborty

india to yunnan journey so far has been a tremendous experience specially so far for a person like me who is travelling abroad … i love the culture and environment of the city just love it had some problem to adapt with the food of here but now got completely used to it …………..its just read on

Some Thoughts on Mao & Bicycles

Some Thoughts on Mao & Bicycles Yes, thoughts of Mao and bicycles kicked-off my China experience. And they have come up continually ever since. Thanks to the airport ATM, it was only a few footsteps into China before Mao was looking me in the eyes. I had many copies of Mao’s portrait, with beautiful natural read on

I Could Live Here

It has been 10 wonderful days in Beijing and am taking in a nice sunny afternoon in the garden cafe before I leave for Chengdu tomorrow.  My time has been a mix of researching Chinese housing policy for the urban/rural poor and seeing all the great historical sites in the city.  My Mandarin vocabulary has read on

Dynamic Yunnan

After dinner we went to see a dance performance called Dynamic Yunnan that is all composed of dances and songs of the various ethnic minorities in the Yunnan province.  Apparently there are around forty of them in the province and Yunnan is known for that.  By ethnic minorities, I gathered that they also meant indigenous read on

Getting There

I guess I never thought that getting to Kunming would be particularly easy, but having travelled to some of the least developed countries in Africa, the prospect reaching a vibrant Chinese metropolis didn’t seem like it would stand much of a challenge. But then again I’ve always been a bit of a penny pincher, so read on


Things have continued to go very well in the early days of my travel.  I’ve become closer with a lot of the staff at the hostel and some of the patrons.  One thing I’ve learned is that the Chinese have a different concept of friendship than people do in the United States.  A friend bought read on

Traveling to Beijing

I’ve always considered myself to be a well traveled person from all my visits to North American major cities and a global person because I follow global news and politics.  The last 48 hours have soundly rid me of those notions! On Tuesday, I flew out of JFK using Aeroflot, the Russian national airline.  Although read on

Yunnan Resources

Hello everyone, I hope you are all getting ready for and excited about our upcoming program in Yunnan! To get the ball rolling with the blog, I’m sharing some recommended resources – websites, readings, films – about Yunnan. If others, particularly our China fellows, have other Yunnan resources to recommend please share them here via read on


We finally got internet at the AVANI center here in Berinag Uttarakhand, India! The center here is great, I quickly got acquainted.  After an hour of physical labor at 7am, I go to work in the solar room. Over the last few days I have been putting together solar chargers for solar lamps. Villagers come read on


I am here in Delhi staying at a hotel Gina, my advisor, recommended. I arrived early the morning of May 29th and it has been great so far. Thanks to Gina I met up with her Indian brother Piyush who is working at a near by yoga center just a few km from hotel, what read on

Almost ready

In addition to the India ticket which I have had for a while, I bought the ticket to Nepal from Delhi yesterday. Got the visa, all the vaccines including Japanese encephalitus, which I had never heard of. Just bought a DSLR Nikon D7000 camera to take many photos of the landscape and people along the read on

My Project

My goal of my blog posts for the India China Institute’s website is to give some insight into the organizations that I came across during my research in Hong Kong.  I was fortunate enough meet with some very generous people who are doing really great work to promote social entrepreneurship in Hong Kong. To give read on

Solidarity and Expertise

A few weeks into fieldwork this summer, I was contracted by my host organization and its New York-based partner organization to edit drafts of a research report they were working on. I have done project-based consulting and volunteer work for the New York partner group since 2008, and worked full-time at a different China-focused rights read on

Everyday Rights

Although bottom-up political action has a long history within China, only recently has a grassroots movement—one driven by local and often marginalized interests rather than by or within traditional structures of power—cohered around the concept of legal rights. Just as the masses learned to “reinterpret their suffering in terms of class rather than of fate” read on

Since Shanghai… and the plan for the next and final three weeks!

Okay! So after the first couple weeks of traveling around and trying to find connections and then making the connection in Shanghai and volunteering and coordinating for five weeks in the schools and community centers, I finally got to leave Shanghai again! I had been working on making connections in more rural areas as I read on

Development and Migration and the initial “route” plan and what I have been doing!

Development and migration are often closely linked phenomena for obvious reasons- mainly people go where there is work. Global migration of which I had studied a bit about before coming to China is often and almost always, if it is labor migration, marked by the trend that ” developing countries” migrate to the ” developed countries” read on

Development and Migration and the initial "route" plan and what I have been doing!

Development and migration are often closely linked phenomena for obvious reasons- mainly people go where there is work. Global migration of which I had studied a bit about before coming to China is often and almost always, if it is labor migration, marked by the trend that ” developing countries” migrate to the ” developed countries” read on

Shanghai : “Not real China” ( thoughts and initial arrival reflections)

A few days ago while I was in Beijing, I was exploring the book swap shelf at the hostel I was staying in and I stumbled upon a book which at first glance I thought was a memoir or novel. It was named ” Growing up in Samoa” written by Margaret Mead. The name sounded read on

Shanghai : "Not real China" ( thoughts and initial arrival reflections)

A few days ago while I was in Beijing, I was exploring the book swap shelf at the hostel I was staying in and I stumbled upon a book which at first glance I thought was a memoir or novel. It was named ” Growing up in Samoa” written by Margaret Mead. The name sounded read on

Getting Around

It is really easy to get around Beijing. You wouldn’t think so, given what everyone says about its immense size, the headache-inducing traffic, and the sheer number of people on the streets. Sure, it might take you ten minutes to cross the street, a six-lane monster (four car lanes, two bike/pedicab lanes) with a median read on

Namaste for Now!

It’s my last day in India! Wow, it has been quite the trip. I’ve had so many incredible conversations with people about for my research topic and generally about how one should live their life and view their responsibility to other living beings. My mind is so full of ideas, which will hopefully soon arrange read on

Bir to Bhagsu

I’ve had quite the experience since the last time I wrote! In Bir, I started spending a lot of time at Deer Park, a center for classical Indian wisdom that specializes in Buddhist philosophy. They also have an ecology program and are very serious about being a zero-waste campus, so they’ve been very interesting for read on

Bir: Part Ek (1)

After 3 plans, 2 trains, a bus, and countless taxis and rickshaws, I finally got to Bir, home to the Dharmalaya Institute. Tibetan food with a friend of the director of Dharmalaya, I found out that the project is at a significantly earlier stage of development than I thought from my correspondence with the director. read on

Planes, Trains & Busses

This is my 16th day in India…forgive me for not writing before, but between blog issues and the unpredictability of internet in rural India, here’s the best I can do! I’ll break my story so far into a few more manageable chunks. First, some background: I received a fellowship from the India China Institute to read on

Planes, Trains & Busses

This is my 16th day in India…forgive me for not writing before, but between blog issues and the unpredictability of internet in rural India, here’s the best I can do! I’ll break my story so far into a few more manageable chunks. First, some background: I received a fellowship from the India China Institute to read on

Chinese Medicine

This post is about my experience going to the hospital for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in Kunming. I have been going to the doctor two or three times a week to receive treatment for a shoulder injury I sustained while skiing in New Hampshire in 2009. The first time, I went with my good friend read on

Kunming Traffic

Hello everyone, Today I am going to write about traffic in Kunming. I find the act of crossing the street endlessly fascinating here. The relationship between vehicles and pedestrians is subtly different from what I am used to. In the USA we have a very clearly defined set of rules about who belongs where: cars read on
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