If those nine photos were the worst the BBC could come up with, then things are probably a lot better than they say. But it’s hard to argue with a steamroller of negative hype; the best one can do is change the subject. Which is what we hope to do by pointing out three terrific things that are happening in Delhi right now.
First is the release of Mayank Austen Soofi’s three books this week. Writing as The Delhi Walla, Mayank is the best Delhi blogger in the business. He’s dedicated himself to telling the stories of one percent of each of Delhi’s 13 million residents, one person at a time. He finds interesting people, takes interesting pictures, and writes interesting stories about them. And the glorious people at Harper Collins India (the same glorious people who are publishing our book) recognized his genius and are releasing three volumes of his work:
We highly encourage you to rush out and buy them. They showcase Delhi from the highest and the lowest, from the richest to the poorest, with a sharp photographer’s eye and a true journalist’s knack for spotting the story that everyone else walks right past. While our own writing is dedicated to looking around and remarking upon what we see, Mayank does the opposite: he walks right up to people and asks them what’s really going on. And what he learns is always fascinating.
A new art exhibition opens this weekend at the Lokayata Gallery in Hauz Khas Village. Here’s how they describe it: “It’s the golden autumn again. And Delhi is celebrating the season in a special way. With eight member artists, the Mirror Group presents its 14th exhibition — ‘MIRROR’. ‘MIRROR’ reflects our life, time and culture. Not just the flat-glossy surface, but the depths of it. Come experience the manifestations through paintings, sculptures, photography and various other media.”
We recommend this exhibit because one of the artists is Dipankar Paul, an extremely talented painter and one of our very good friends in Delhi. (He’s the one who taught us “Not your price, not my price.”) His work is terrific, and if all the other art in the exhibit is up to his standard, it’s going to be a very good show indeed. It starts today and continues through October 1st from 11 AM to 7 PM at Lokayata in Haus Khas Village.
Long-time readers of this blog will remember Rags to Pads, a fundraising effort Jenny and I put together to help address two problems at once: to improve sanitation and reduce disease in rural Uttar Pradesh, and to create job opportunities for women in a region where there are hardly any. We raised over $10,000 to help Pardada Pardadi Educational Society (Jenny’s former employer and our recommended NGO) purchase a machine for manufacturing menstrual pads, thus creating a business opportunity for the graduates for the school AND providing a market-driven alternative to current habits out there. It’s been going extremely well:
A few months ago, Rags to Pads was featured on National Public Radio. And now we’ve learned that Rags to Pads is being used as a model for an India-wide initiative!
The Union health ministry launched a Rs 150-crore scheme last month to promote menstrual health among rural adolescent girls. Unavailability and high costs of sanitary napkins deter menstrual hygiene in rural India. The scheme aims to provide one pack of six sanitary napkins at Re 1 to girls in the below poverty-line category. Those above the poverty line will get the pack for Rs 5.
…In Anupshaher in Uttar Pradesh, a girls’ school run by the nonprofit Pardada Pardadi Educational Society has installed a low-cost sanitary napkin unit. It employs its former students to run the unit, and sells a pack of 10 napkins to students at Rs 5. Members of the students’ families have also started to order. Now with the government scheme, these groups hope to expand their reach.
We’re honored to have played a part in kick-starting this effort, and we want to once again thank all our readers who donated as well! This is really good news.
So, the Games are a week away. Put down the newspaper, because the headlines aren’t going to make you feel any better. Go read Mayank’s books, see Dipankar’s art, and revel in progress being made. There’s good news in Delhi, even if nobody is talking about it.
And when the Games start, don’t be surprised if things aren’t as bad as they say. They usually aren’t.