January 20th was the puja for Saraswati, the god of learning and wisdom. I spent the day at the office although little work was done. I accompanied my counterpart to the "receiving" part of the ceremony. Basically this involved food offerings and a blessing. I was anointed with a red mark on my forehead and clavicle. Hindus believe these marks represent the essence of the god within you, meaning that she would be in my thoughts and in my words for the rest of the day. After the markings I was presented with a candle tree where, after watching everyone else, I swept my hands over the flame and brought the heat over the top of my head. I'm pretty sure this signifies the receiving of the god. Afterward I was given flower petals which I threw at the statue of the deity.
(picture to come soon of me with the red dots... currently on the roommate's lent out camera)
Pushin' in at the bank
I went to the bank and the line ups were utter chaos. I was with an employee from the OAB who volunteered to stand in line for me while I waited. Good thing because I don't think I have what it takes to get to the front of the line. The lines were long and loud and when a new window opened up it caused a stampede of men. Insane! I did not see a women in the 60 or so people.
All Orissa Student Union of the Visually Impaired
On Saturday the 23rd I accompanied the OAB to the 4th annual function of the All Orissa Student Union of the Visually Impaired. This event was held in Cuttack at Orissa's oldest university, Revenesha University. My role was to show the honoured guests how to use a piece of hardware and accompanying software called Zoom-Ex/Office. This system can take any printed material like a book, magazine or prescription bottle and scan it into the computer allowing for text to speech and magnification functions. My small presentation was well received and hopefully it will lead to a workshop at the OAB for members of the different universities to come and learn how to use this system first hand.
The line of presentations of visually impaired technology. You can see Samad giving a JAWS demonstration.
OAB members interviewing about the conference.
Tuesday January 26th was India's 61st anniversary as a country free from British rule. There was a flag hoisting ceremony at work that I missed because I like sleeping. It seems that when there is a holiday people show up to the office around 7 or 8 … far from the normal time of 10. I did however capture a few shots of the flag and the blessing powder surrounding it. I basically went into the office, greeted my co-workers, ate and then had the rest of the day off. I don't think that I have worked a full week in the 7 weeks that I have been at the OAB.
Song from title: Two Receivers by Klaxons