One of the things I will take away from this week is the power and importance of inquisitiveness. I wondered before coming here how people would react to us coming in and asking what I would consider to be very personal questions. During our marketing class this term my group was working on a marketing plan for a very small business to which we reached out at one point with some questions to attempt to ensure our research was applicable and viable. The business owners weren’t willing to answer any of the questions we had and were almost suspicious that we worked for the competition or something.
India on the other hand has been a major contrast. We have walked up to people and asked questions about income, cost of goods, overhead, rent, what their biggest challenges, dreams and aspirations are and we have received answers without hesitation. I have been surprised with how forthcoming people have been and hope this trend continues over the next week as we do more fieldwork.
Inquisitiveness and interest were the themes of the week. The more interest we showed in the lives of those around us, the more they opened up and the richer our interaction and experience. I believe that especially here where there is a need for translation, attempting to go deeper adds value to not only the interaction but also the information. When interviewing people about viability of businesses and projects both trends and inconsistencies can come to light, but even the inconsistencies add value to the depth of information received.
I want to take a moment to particularly thank Banu, Ranga Raju, MRK Raju and Krishna for all their work and patience in ensuring our questions were asked, understood and answered (even if we had to ask a few more times!). I also want to recognize those who brought us into their lives, even if only for a brief moment, and graciously and patiently answered questions which would have been unthinkable to ask back home. Each of these made my week in Bhimavaram unforgettable and though they may never read this post or know it, I owe them a great debt of gratitude.