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Real World: Rural Haryana

Blog Post2 min read

While I was hanging out with our team in Haryana, I realized that the day-to-day life of our survey resembles the MTV series The Real World an awful lot. Since a lot of people have been asking how this is all working, I thought I would give you a glimpse of what it all looks like. Join me on a tour of the Real World: Rural Haryana. As you’ll see, the house is just like in the show.

This is the true story of eight strangers picked to live together and work together, to see what happens when people do a sanitation survey across 16 districts in 8 states, finding places to stay and the things need to survive along the way.

[caption id="attachment_1165" align="aligncenter" width="480"] house 768x1024 Our house is the one on the left.[/caption]

The day starts at 5:00am when Mangal, our wonderful cook, wakes up to start making breakfast and lunch in our professional-grade, restaurant-style kitchen.

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Everyone else gets up at around that time too because there’s only one Jacuzzi bathtub to go around.

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Normally this all runs very smoothly, but sometimes there are some heated discussions about the shower line. And sometimes when there’s no electricity (and thus no hot water), there are no showers at all.

After getting ready, packing our lunches to take with us, and filling our water bottles, we’re off for a full day of surveying.

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When we get back home in the evenings, chai and pakoras are waiting for us, and we sit down to check the questionnaires that were completed during the day in our ergonomically equipped office. This is when things get real. Many a confessional have been inspired by the animated debates around checking forms. But in the end everyone makes up; no one has been voted off the show yet.

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Then we eat the yummy dinner that Mangal has prepared for us at our 19th century oak wood dining table.

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By 10pm, everyone is all cozied up in the silk sheets of their king-size beds.

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And we start again the next day. Every two weeks, we move to a new district, and the house is set up afresh. It’s tough work, and sometimes tensions arise, but in the end we’re all a family. We have two more days left of surveying before everyone gets to go home for a one-week break. Everyone’s counting down the hours, but I believe we’re all actually going to miss each other when we leave, particularly the whole sleeping 6 inches away from our neighbor part.

Here’s to a great start to the survey, and to a successful six states to come! Happy holidays!


r.i.c.e. is a non-profit research organization focused on health and well-being in India. Our core focus is on children in rural north India. Our research studies health care at the start of life, sanitation, air pollution, maternal health, social inequality, and other dimensions of population-level social wellbeing.

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