VO’s Director of Outreach, Victor Sjodin, is on week four of a ten-week leafleting tour in India. He’s been checking in with us to share stories of his experiences. This week, Vic gives us a glimpse into leafleting in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Greetings from India! We had a slow but pleasant day this past Sunday in the city of Jaipur, in the state of Rajasthan. I was lucky to be joined by the crew of Angel Eyes Animal Welfare Foundation, a group affiliated with the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO). It was great to be helped by these selfless activists in their spare time. I found it very inspiring.
Angela is only in the tenth “standard” (grade) and already runs her own group at school and volunteers a lot. Divakar has his master’s degree, manages his mother’s clothing store, and has been volunteering for a year. Amit is a travel agent and is new to the group, and Abhishek is the glue that holds it together–a warm and energetic longtime activist who, even with a business, wife and young child, finds lots of time for activism.
Today was a bit slow at times, but the best part was that we reached mostly youth and we saw so many people reading the entire booklets–far more than usual. Perhaps only Mexico rivals India for the high percentage of cover-to-cover readers. It is so great to see! Interestingly, some people hesitate to take booklets because they assume they are for sale, but when they learn they’re free, they gladly accept them. We are also a curiosity and many come up to us for a booklet, which is very convenient.
As a Westerner, the strangest part of the day happened while I was waiting for the others outside of Albert Hall Museum, outside the zoo. All these grown men and then others wanted a “selfie” with me. They would say, “Excuse me sir, one picture please,” and I felt like a tourist attraction! I took pictures with 15 individuals in quick succession, which made me feel weird. Every day we take lots of selfies with people for no apparent reason other than that we are light pigmented. This happened at the zoo entrance too, and one selfie invariably leads to many. Jaipur is a big tourist city, and there are white people around, so I don’t completely understand it.
Globalization has definitely pervaded. There are American fast food chains everywhere. Kids here discuss the new season of Orange is the New Black with us, listen to the same pop music as we do in the U.S., and love Johnny Depp. They also associate eating meat at times with being modern and Western. We’re doing good here, and we see many people reading our booklets.
We handed out 1,500 booklets this day (February 7th) at Jaipur Zoo, Gaurav Towers Mall, and nearby areas in Jaipur. Thank you to activists Abhishek Singh, Angela Williams, Divakar Mehta, and Amit Sharma.