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Such is how it is

March 3, 2010

Feeling dark and morbid. And tired. Not in the mood to travel to Chennai tonight for our last conference. But. Yeah. I need rest. I have been "on" for nearly a month now, with no break, and I am feeling it. Feeling weepy and stressed about nothing in particular, and everything in general.

We had a deeply angering meeting with our European donors yesterday. I have to learn to hold my tongue in the face of breath-taking dishonesty and rudeness. Pile on a healthy portion of paternalism, and I am transported back to how it must have been like 50 – 60 years ago. It didn’t help that the representative was an old, white man who had the mean-nest, sharpest features I can ever remember seeing. He just glared at me the entire time. I am way too uppity and irritatingly have an answer (or comment) to everything.

We were actually told we should be grateful they approved our project. Also that Indian NGOs were rampant with fraud, just so we know, just for our information. Even though our European donor had three external evaluations and could find not a shred of evidence for this (in fact one of the evaluators found us to be "one of the best" in terms of financial management).

I have witnessed donor-NGO interactions many times in my years in India. But I have never seen anything so void of respect and basic good faith. I had never witnessed such a nauseating sense of the donors behaving—not as partners as much as overlords. It was sick and unpleasant. After I leave this job, I am planning on writing a long letter to these donors telling them this.

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