On the first day of our trip to India, we all arrived early in the morning around 4 A.M. Too excited about our upcoming adventures to sleep, we sat together talking about the journey to India and getting to know one another. On the first day, after the sun came up, we all went to a small shopping area called D-Mart, where we got to sample local sweets and to see a little of the city of Ahmedabad. We also met some of the students who are studying at EDI and who were extremely nice. They showed us around the campus with its European-style architecture: brick buildings with courtyards and ponds in between each building, connected by open walkways. It had a small football pitch and a nice basketball court. We found that the school hosts a little market where we could buy drinks and snacks in between meals as well as a cantina for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The first and second day of work flew, reading about the clusters that were going to observe and breaking up into two teams. The days were long, but we relished the opportunity to explore what we would be working on for the next six weeks. During the introduction, EDI explained that they want us to assist the Producer Company, which is an organization of weavers, dyers, master weavers and other members of the crafting process. By the end of the second day, we determined that two improvements were needed for the Producer Company, marketing and organizational structure. We plan to work on the marketing aspect for the weavers to build brand equity and to cut out some of the middlemen in the supply chain that are taking the majority of the profits from the weavers and actual craftsmen. The second objective is to make the Producer Company a self-sustaining company that no longer needs support from EDI. Our solution to this is to create a handbook that outlines procedures and organizational practices to which the Producer Company can refer.
The first week has gone in a similar fashion to the first two days: reading about the hand loom cluster, gaining insight from the professors at EDI, preparing our objectives, and discussing the best way to complete our objectives in the three-week time span we have at the clusters. We plan initially to use surveys to gather quantitative information about the clusters and interviews to gather the detailed, qualitative information needed. We are very aware that our objectives could radically change once arriving in Varanasi after talking with the members of the Producer Company. Consequently, we have built flexibility into our visit. We have decided that the first couple of days in Varanasi will be for observing hand loom process and talking with members of the Producer Company to determine if the objectives we have identified line up with their desires.
Having completed our first week of studying and preparing, we are finally setting off on a train to Varanasi! Estimated as a 32-hour journey with 56 stops, we have prepared ourselves with plenty of more reading, cards, and snacks!
Too important to overlook, we saw a massive monkey on the second day which probably came up to our hips when it was on all fours, but the tail looked like it came above our heads!