Growth in all directions

Growth in all directions

I promise I’m not turning this into a food blog, but I don’t have much to write today so…

Last night I made Matar Paneer. Or Cheesy Peas, if you want a more Anglo-descriptive term. I’d been looking forward to making this dish because, as a now-practicing vegetarian, I do find myself getting a little tired of the legumes. Gotta mix it up with some dairy protein. I had a hard time finding tomato sauce though. Finally, I did find something:

If there’s one thing I learned in Italy last fall, (aside from “mi scusi, signore, mi sono perso”) it was the word “pomodoro.” So when I saw two cans of this, and CONCENTRATO no less, I bought out the whole bazaar (of all two cans). If only I’d known what “doppio” meant.* My dish turned out a bit overly tomato-y, even though I’d diluted the tomato paste. I don’t deep fry things, so the paneer fell apart a little bit, but whatever. I mixed some dahi (yogurt) in so you can’t really tell. Had it with kulcha (leavened flatbread) and it was good. Sorry about my presentation, I don’t have a lot of dishware that would lend itself well to artistic plating. And I’m only doing one dish/night, so that’s why the plate looks a little bare!

On Monday night, I had dinner with my landlady. She gave me some tips on the pressure cooker and got the guard to show me how to use the washing machine. We had rajma (kidney beans) and rice, green beans, tomato and cucumber salad, chapatti (like pita bread) and a paneer dish I really liked. Mrs. Prakash had this way of saying, “Please take some rice” or “Please take some paneer” that wasn’t phrased even remotely like a question. Needless to say, I left pretty much stuffed. To everyone who was worried about my pants hanging off me after having been sick: you can stop worrying. In fact, you can probably start worrying in the other direction now.

What else… I just handed in my draft outline for my epidemiology study design class (it’s a school and community based obesity prevention intervention for the James Bay Cree secondary schools). I’m having a little trouble deciding on my sampling and randomization plan because there are only 10 schools in the whole board (my sampling frame) with high variance in populations in my target age group. I feel like I should get all the schools rather than even take a sample to avoid bias… Population proportional to size sampling? Matched-pair randomization by cluster with direct standardized analysis? This isn’t like an “options, options!” mental exercise, there should be a correct answer in here somewhere.

At CARE, I’m working on my case studies and trying to figure out how to present the information I’ve collected: focus on the process? On the outcome? Consolidate the interviews into one case study on the CBO, or keep them separate as individual learnings and perceptions? Highlight the difficulties I had getting certain info as a jump-off point for future discussion? I’m learning a lot about case method, models, and theory of change; this really influences how we’re going to go about making the shift from our project-oriented approach to a programmatic approach and position ourselves as a knowledge organization. I’m mostly doing a lot of reading, actually. It’s very, very different from what I do at Pfizer: not nearly as forced or procedural and the focus is not the end product, it’s the process of change. I haven’t heard the word “standardization” once, I think it would be the complete antithesis of what we’re trying to achieve. It’s much more conceptual than anything I’ve done before, so between this and my epidemiology study design quandaries I do feel like I’m getting a mental workout, even if my “output” feels like so much less than what I’m used to. See? I think I just learned something there.

Oh, there’s a general strike today (“Bharat bandh”). I think they’re protesting increasing fuel prices, so all the taxis and rickshaws are off the roads. I didn’t see any action on my way to work, but apparently demonstrations in other parts of the country turned violent, with buses being burned and stoned. The empty office was really nice and quiet today, though!

Here’re a couple more pictures of my neighbourhood. This weekend I’m going to Agra and Jaipur to do my thang at the Taj Mahal and interact with painted elephants at Fort Amer. Tune in next week for the full report!

*it means “double.” So it was extra-concentrated tomato paste, not just “regular” tomato paste.


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