30 May 2016:
Had a late start in the villages today because the women we were planning on talking to had a wedding earlier in the day and weren’t able to meet until late evening. We finished up the focus groups around 9 PM and headed straight back to Tanjore, where we ended up meeting with some of the Vodafone executives for a late dinner.
Arun, the head of Vodafone Tamil-Nadu, happened to be in town for the day and had
accompanied us to the villages so he was also at dinner. He’s from the nearby state of Kerala and found out that Claudia and I were planning on travelling there for a weekend, so he was very helpful and offered up some tips on places to go, where to stay, what to see, that sort of thing. We also found out that tomorrow we’d be having another late start (again because of the wedding going on in that same village), and Arun suggested that we take the time off in the morning to explore Tiruchirapally, since we had only ever driven through after arriving in Tamil Nadu a few weeks earlier. He even offered to show us around some temples in the morning, since he would have to be in Trichy to board the plane anyway the next day.
Also at dinner, Tanaji, the head of the Thanjavur Vodafone branch that we’ve been working with, told us some more background about Brihadeeswarar Temple, after we shared some stories from our earlier visit there. The temple is dedicated to Shiva, a Hindu god, and according to Hindu belief, the temple is meant to reveal and destroy the unfaithful. After visiting Bridhadeeswarar, Indira Ghandi was murdered, as was her son. After Jayaltha, the governor of Tamil Nadu, visited the temple 10 years ago, she was stripped of her power and thrown in jail for corruption. After having told us all this, Tanaji looked at Claudia, Ashwanth, and I and said: “To you, these may be stories, but I know them to be truths.”