Monthly Archives: December 2015

Jugaad जग

Jugaad, a Hindi and Punjabi word that we have both seen and heard here in India and one of the things I have learned to greatly admire about the culture.  The closest word I can think of that we use is “jerry-rig”.  It means to be innovative and work around the problem.  It is often used when creating something out of very meagre resources.  I must admit that it has taken me time to appreciate jugaad.  At the beginning, I think I was more critical than appreciative and it has been one of the blessings of living here so long — I have grown to appreciate the people’s ability to “just make it work.”  Jugaad can be seen as a survival tactic — like connecting those electrical wires like there is no reasoning behind any of it — but it can also be seen as innovation — making do with what you have.

Jugaad is seen daily as you travel in the city.  It can be a guard’s plastic chair with a broken leg propped up on a bucket so it is still functional, to an auto rickshaw that has wires tying it together.  I want to just share a few things that have taught me about jugaad and the incredible human spirit here in India.

Jugaad on a bike

One sees Jugaad everywhere in transporting things here, like this motorcycle.


Construction:  NOTHING goes to waste when construction is happening.  The rebar that was in the old building is taken out and carefully reused.  We have a couple of different construction projects happening on our street right now and it is fascinating to watch all the jugaad occurring.  Below is one picture taken out my window catching the assembling of bamboo poles to make the scaffolding for the side of the building.  Notice the flip flops on the feet.


Non-profit Groups (NGOs):  This is where I have seen the most innovative jugaad and have really been impressed by it.  I have visited at least 20 different NGOs these past couple of years and I am continually impressed with how they “make do.”  A few examples below:


Oil cans used for cooking have been turned into herb and flower pots at Lotus Petal Foundation School for poor children.



A waste bin has been created from newspapers for a classroom at Ritinjali, an NGO that runs a school in a slum area.



Old cassette tapes are woven into fabric and sewn into bags and purses by Very Special Arts India, an NGO that works with disabled teenagers.


Rag Pickers:  The rag picking community in India ensures nothing goes to waste.  I have walked through the homes of these rag pickers and let’s just say their entire structure is jugaad!  This group of rag pickers each has an assignment — one is plastics, another paper, etc.  As they dump out bags of trash, they sort accordingly.  I believe my trash is gone through 3 or 4 times before it reaches the rag pickers.  First, the maid will take whatever she wants.  I have heard stories of some people seeing their maids take out potato peelings to supplement their food source.  Second, the guards.  I notice our milk jugs, etc. out by the guards dishes so I know they are using them for something useful.  Third, the trash collector.  He picks things up in his bicycle wagon and goes through it before he turns it over to the rag pickers.


The Market Place:  Even in the market, jugaad is alive and well.  At the fruit and vegetable stand I shop, they pack certain types of fruit like kiwis and mangoes into bags that have been folded and pasted out of paper that is meant for recycling.  Tyler has had very interesting sandwich wrappers at times from all the jugaad.


AWA:  The organization in which I have been involved, has an incredible woman named Charlotte who does a lot of magic to make jugaad happen for many NGOs.  We have a thrift store that funds the projects we support for non-profits.  Anything not worth selling there, goes to “Charlotte’s Web”, as it has been fondly named, and she sorts by NGO needs.  Shredded paper goes to one NGO that makes bags out of it.  Socks with no match go to another NGO that works with individuals with one leg.  Eye covers that you get on the airplane so you can sleep better go to another NGO that sews them into coin purses and sells them for a few pennies.  This incredible woman, my friend now, inspires me as she has lived here many years and is in her late 70s, still working to bring good to her part of the world.

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I love the innovative spirit, the will to survive, and the creativity that can be seen.


Meeting Halfway — Turkey in Italy

“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.”  Well, that saying may have more than a literal meaning, but for the Bryson and Ossola families, meeting halfway in Italy was a fantastic adventure.  It all started over the summer with the discussion of whether the long distance to India could be endured, along with the smells, food, etc.  After sharing that we would gladly meet them halfway in Europe for a trip, wheels started spinning, internet searches were done, determining that the best soccer match for Thanksgiving week would be in Turin, Italy.  End result — a whirlwind trip of Italy with great friends!

Stop 1:  Turin, Italy for the Juventus vs Manchester City Match

We were able to fulfill one of our boys’ wishes of hitting up one more European soccer game while living in India.  If one has never attended a soccer match in Europe, it is an event.  Unlike American sports where we file to our seats after the game begins, leave to buy food during the game, Europeans take their soccer a bit more serious.  No one arrives late and rarely leaves their seat.  There is definitely a reverence for the game in Europe.  The most memorable moment of the night, though may have been the street wandering done for at least an hour trying to figure out how to get back to our hotel — buses completely packed, taxis hard to find.  Turin has not figured that out yet, as we were not alone in the pursuit of transportation.  We finally had a few people that were packing up their merchandise booths take pity on us and offered to get us back to our hotel.

We arrived in Turin around 9am Wednesday morning so we had some time before the game to take in some sights.  We saw the City Palace, visited the church where the Shroud of Turin is located and did TripAdvisor’s #1 recommendation — the Egyptian museum.  Hailey found it troubling that we were in Italy visiting Egypt at a museum but I must say it was an impressive display.


Turin’s City Palace



The Egyptian museum


Turin street performers and our first taste of Italian pizza — the boys ordered “American pizza” which had French fries and hot dogs for toppings.

Stop #2:  Florence, Tyler’s favorite!

We left unified Italy’s first capitol city of Turin, and headed to it’s second capitol city — Florence — where 1/3 of the world’s art treasures reside and the first European city with paved streets.  We celebrated Thanksgiving on this day with a full Thanksgiving dinner thanks to our friend, Amy, who wandered across an American sports bar offering turkey with all the trimmings — the first our family has had in three years.  Watching some American football on big screens at the restaurant was another pull for the group as it is something we miss.


Tyler and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary in Florence on Thanksgiving Day.  Much to be grateful for these past 24 years.


Climbing all the way to the Duomo in Florence gave us incredible views of the city.  Despite the effort to get to the top, the kids agreed that the views at the top were better than the one at the Academie where Michelangelo’s “David” statue is on display.  Hailey did not appreciate looking at a large statue of a naked man and the boys got plenty of chuckles over it but it was the first time I had seen it and it is incredible.


Lots of “people watching” and chuckles as they viewed the backside of David at the Academie Museum



The view from the climb at the Duomo.  Look at that clean air — something I do not take for granted now.


Stop #3:  Rome — the eternal city and current capitol of Italy — and the Vatican — the world’s smallest sovereign state

We were losing part of our group’s energy by the time we arrived in Rome, so some opted rest at the hotel Friday afternoon — it may have had something to do with the late nights going on in the boys’ rooms.  But that didn’t deter the rest of us — adults + Hailey in walking the town making stops at the Spanish steps, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and of course a gelato shop!


The Trevi Fountain in Rome



Hailey’s favorite — the Pantheon

On our last full day, Saturday, we crammed in all that we could and still keep everyone happy.  We covered the Roman Forum, the Colosseum and Vatican City.  The Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel were actually toured twice — the boys just couldn’t get enough of it!  Just kidding — we missed the turn the first time to walk directly from the Sistine Chapel into St. Peter’s Basilica so we amused many tourists as we walked through a second time incredibly fast.


The Roman Forum




The Colosseum


The Christmas tree was ready at Vatican City.  Since we get NO sign of Christmas in New Delhi, it was so nice to see the signs of Christmas in Italy.


Technically, the Ossola’s traveled more than halfway to meet the Bryson family in Italy but we are so grateful that we had the experience to meet such great friends, tour an incredible part of the world, and appreciate the diversity that is in this planet!  Thank you Ossola’s for meeting us halfway!