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About CLIC

CLIC Abroad educates and empowers students in America and India by sharing their cultures and daily lives through the medium of Arts, Theater and Music. Inspired and organized by Bhaskar Krishnamurthy, world renowned photographer, CLIC Abroad team helps international students as well as native students documenting and sharing old world Indian culture before modernization transforms the many faces India.

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‘Elephants in the Coffee’ documentary is screening around the world

The documentary in collaboration with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton is complete and is showing in many film festivals around the world. It is also being screened in Universities and schools upon invitation. For future screenings and to contact, check out www.elephantsinthecoffee.com

The documentary has been well received by the public in all of its screenings and in the process has been selected as a best documentary in several film festivals.

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College students: Join us on our next trip

Austin Morris, Tom Grant and D.K. Bhaskar with cameras after a shoot in southern India.

Austin Morris, Tom Grant and D.K. Bhaskar at the capture of two elephants in southern India.

D.K. Bhaskar and Tom Grant will lead another trip to southern India to study ongoing conflicts between farmers and Asian elephants in late May 2017.

The trip is a study abroad class, COMM 4890, offered to college students through Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia. The class is open to transient students from other colleges and universities.

A brochure about the trip is attached below. The cost for the three-week study abroad, including air fare from Atlanta, lodging, meals and tuition, is $5400.

Anyone interested can contact Dr. Grant at tgrant@abac.edu or 229-947-9738.

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Brochure for Study Abroad 2017

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Answering the unanswered

May 26, 2010 was the day that turned my life around. I had experienced something ineffable and unimaginable. The loss of a loved one is always a painful process. For me I had lost more than just one person, I felt like I had lost my life.

I grew up all along envisioning her as a heroic manifestation surmounting all energy and grace for me. Unfortunately, all the energy and motivation that I drew from her was all lost in just a moment. I stood there feeling numb with the pain and inexplicable loss. A group of people who I barely even knew suddenly surrounded me. I felt overwhelmed and an excruciating pain deep within my soul.

The process of grieving was slow and unending for me. I could not ever foresee myself overcoming this loss until I said things out loud and put together this video. Although, my grieving process will never attain completion in this lifetime but I am on a path that instills within me the courage to overcome the urge to endlessly lament.

Losing a loved one and especially one’s own mother is difficult to come to terms with. I constantly questioned myself for years upon losing her. My relationship with her was more than that of merely being a parent. She was my best friend, confidante, guide and lifeline. I had promised to her that we would always be inseparable.

These conversations seemed meaningless to me after having lost my mother. My dearest friend and system of support had transitioned to a different world from where she could not travel each day to see me. Each time I wanted to overcome my loss, I kept having conflicting conversations within myself. It is only by put together my story and coming to terms with reality, have I been able to accept my loss. I will continue to love her and cherish our memories until my last breath.

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Why my India trips leave me sad.

 By, Abha Rai

I believe that I am a proud Indian in every aspect. I am exhilarated about my rich cultural heritage, language and beliefs that emanate from my community. This is my second trip back to India this year and this trip makes me even more sad than the last one.

My trips to India are one of those things that I look forward to each time it is planned because this is the only way for me to meet my family and friends. The last time I came back in March; it was after about two and a half years. I was excited right from the time I got onto the plane about meeting everyone, eating good Indian food, shopping and just living it up. My journey started off well obviously and I did enjoy some really good time catching up with everyone and going to new eateries, eating endless home cooked meals and experiencing the Indian warmth and hospitality.

As my trip started to progress; my impression of India as a country gradually began changing. I mean the myth that I had in my head about everything being inexpensive around here was completely a farce. Everything right from food to clothes to movies is not the same 300-400 rupees I remember it to be. With that being said, the part that surprised me the most that everybody living here continues to shop, eat and watch movies. Everybody goes out and even manages to own some really expensive things. Me being my curious self, asked around and learnt that people here are drawing huge salaries and hence the capacity to spend is what it is.

Now this is not the part that makes me sad. The part that makes me unhappy is that while some people are earning and are becoming richer; the power differential that exists, continues to widen. In my few conversations with individuals belonging to the affluent section; I was also told that, “We are earning more, and therefore we are also paying more to our maids and the help we have.” But, my immediate thought was, who decides what is more? Who decides what is really enough?

There was not a single mall that was empty; people kept buying clothes, shoes, bags and what not. On the other hand, there were people whose houses were filled with water because of the heavy rains. On one side there are little children who stay up all night crying because water is dripping on their heads. On the other side, of course there are children whose parents can’t stop pampering them. There are people eating out of garbage cans, and there are people who couldn’t stop eating out every single night at exorbitant restaurants. There are people walking endless distances each day to get to work or to collect water for their house, and there are people who wake up each morning to decide which car they wanted to ride.

Of course, there are critics and numerous reports who state that the plight of India as a nation is improving because of numerous government schemes, external funding to NGO programs being implemented in marginalized communities. Who decides this? When people, whose plight actually needs to be improved are not really participating in the process, because they are too busy worrying about how to gather their next meal or pay for their child being admitted into a hospital. Or they are trying to save a dying father, husband, wife, daughter, son or a sister because they haven’t eaten in days or have caught a disease because they are living in unsanitary conditions.

It is reassuring and nice on paper to read about all these wonderful government schemes or about huge sum of monies being transposed to India. My eye opening realization about the actual plight was when I came back from the States this time. It hasn’t been that long since I moved out, but somehow reading snippets of the positive image that is portrayed made me believe that I am going back to a country with some glaring progress. The power differential makes me sad and the lack of realization on the part of people worsens the pain that rests within me.

I have always loved reading Karl Marx. The difference between the have’s and have not’s has existed since time immemorial. He stated that the difference will exist as long as the rich or the so called affluent continue to own the decision making and have the real power, the plight of the marginalized will never change. According to the preamble of the Indian constitution we are a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic society. I do not understand the part about being a socialist society. I disagree that there is an equal distribution of wealth and resources amongst everyone. India has been and continues to be a capitalistic society where the wealth index, happiness, progress and development is all measured by the standards laid down by the haves of the society. The existence of the marginalized community seems redundant because they are always at the receiving end. It is time for the affluent to assume responsibility and make some on ground changes in the plight of the marginalized communities. It cannot be underestimated that the affluent continue to be higher on the power differential equation because of the support and loyalty they attract from the working class. The horrific state of certain sections of population within the country not only saddens me, but it also scares me about the surmountable retaliation and rebellion we are ultimately heading towards.

 

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Abha Rai is a social worker who works on domestic violence issues with South Asian immigrant women in the United States. She identifies herself as a women’s rights activist and a feminist. She has been passionate about social work since high school. She loves to travel, try out new food and is fitness freak. On a free day, she loves to sip coffee, write her heart out and go out for a nice long run.

Follow her on, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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How married women in India are exploited in the name of marital rape.

By,

Abha Rai 

Recent statistics state that about 95% of rape cases in India are committed by a person known to the victim. Data also depicts that a woman is attacked once in every 3 minutes in India. The number of married women being sexually attacked by their husbands is on the rise in the country.

The country had made it to the news for one of the most brutal rape cases committed in 2012. This required a serious revision in the law. The law was revised with there being a few amendments. However, marital rape was left outside the paradigm of the definition. Supposedly this means that “marital rape” is not considered to be rape in the first case. Leading political figures have stated that the culture of the country is such that the internationally acceptable definition of “marital rape” cannot be applied in the Indian context. This has conveniently legalized marital rape to the advantage of several husbands. Marriage suddenly seems to have become a license to exploit wives and abuse them without the fear of any form of implication. It is not unheard of, for several Indian women to be exploited in their households for forced sexual pleasures. Somehow, leaving the notion of marital rape outside of the definition of rape has unknowingly penalized married women in the name of revising the definition and providing support to women.

Despite recommendations being made by the Justice Verma committee; that was responsible to suggest amendments to the rape law post the 2012 rape case, marital rape still has not been criminalized. Feminist scholars continue to denounce such practices and openly criticize gaps in the political system within the country that has not been successful in ending the inhumane exploitation of women. The number of instances of marital rape are seen to be exponentially increasing due to a multitude of reasons such as a feeling of powerlessness among women, unwarranted supremacy of men and a forced reinforcement of the cultural dogmas that exist within the Indian society. Due to a disparate rule of law, the power equation in a heterosexual marriage is advantaged in the favor of the alpha male. This alpha male is obviously considered the stronger personality in the relationship and has extensive control over the woman he marries in the areas of finance, social relationships as well as sexual relationships. This often leaves the woman in the relationship feeling oppressed and ill-treated. This means that in India if a man wants to commit rape all he has to do it get married and exploit his partner. This will not only satisfy his sexual desires but will also leave him scot free. On the other hand, the woman is left feeling helpless, scared, ashamed, mentally and physically pained. What surprises me the most is that in a time and era when the world is talking about the empowerment of women and the seriousness of crimes such as rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment and the like; how has a country taken such a stance on marital rape? The hypocrisy within the society, culture and the political set up continues to put women at a higher risk. The surmountable efforts by community based organizations, international bodies etc. is meaningless when the law is not in the favor of women. Despite there being enumerable community based organizations working in this area; the fact that “marital rape” is not a crime leaves women at the mercy of their husbands. In an issue which is not treated as a crime; efforts by community based organizations, the women themselves or even their families seems pointless.

The existential question at this point must be whether India as a country wants to risk the sisters, wives, daughters of their country? Whether marriage should be a license for men to subjugate women? Whether women should grow up in constant fear of being taken advantage of? Whether we want to continue promoting gender inequality? Whether we want to allow women to live in abysmal and dismal conditions upon being married? Marital rape is a serious crime that exists behind closed doors in India. A closer inspection and revision of the existing law on rape can be an answer to all of these unanswered questions.

 

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My hero, my Inspiration-A day into Usha’s life!

By Abha Rai

Poverty is not a notion that any of us growing up in India have been unfamiliar with. The word does become a little hazy if you are away from India. Clic Abroad has done several projects in India and is very proud of its work deeply rooted in India. A photo project recognizing the real community heroes, and calling out their stories is what we at Clic Abroad embarked upon this summer. Our first eye opening encounter was with Usha, 37(name and age changed to protect identity).

Usha and her family

 

Here is what Usha’s day looks like. Usha is a proud mother (she calls herself that) to three girls and lives with them along with her husband. Usha loves her girls and identifies herself as a mother first and anyone else later. Usha is always surrounded by her youngest daughter, Meera, 6( name changed to protect identity). Despite being equally close to all her daughters, Usha’s face instantly lights up each time she catches a glimpse of Meera.

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She is the sole bread earner and care taker of the family. Usha’s day begins by waking up at 5 am and cooking meals for her family, engaging in daily household chores and preparing for her day job as a domestic helper.

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She drops off her kids to school at reaches her day job at 8.15 am. At the job, she is required to manage day to day household tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Her day from work ends at 6.30 pm after which she picks up her children from their tuition lessons. Her day does not end just yet. Upon reaching home, she goes back to cooking meals for the family and ultimately wraps up her day by putting everyone to bed.

 

Many a times her days ending with erratic fights with her alcoholic husband. Being beaten and abused was the norm of her house. Not for one minute of the interview did she stop smiling. She kept reiterating the fact that she was so thankful to God for the girls and her family. Happiness for her has always been watching the girls smile, study and grow together. Her ultimate aim is just like any other mother of watching her kids become successful and well accomplished.

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As I left, I saw Usha continue her daily chores of providing for her family. She indeed is our hero and our inspiration who believes in providing selfless and genuine care to her family. I had tears in my eyes imagining her struggle, but for even a second she did not let her smile fade away. Such are the individuals who make life worth living and continue to live for today when they are not even sure if they will ever have the next meal. There are several Usha’s who go for days working and skipping meals just to provide for their families and there are several others who continue to live unaware and unmoved despite the existence of several women like Usha.

 

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Satish and the King Cobra

King cobra looks at Satish

King cobra looks at Satish

By Shelby Evans

Snake Satish asks me if I want to come closer. I shake my head, “No.” He grabs my forearm and pulls. He crouches behind the King and I do the same. I’m not gonna die in India, I think. Snake Satish tells me that the King has bad eyesight but can sense ground vibration well. I feel an uncontrollable tremor vibrate through my foot, which is supporting me.
I’m not going to die here, I think again.

We pulled over in a heavily forested area. Each of us clamber out of our jeeps and gather at the side of road. We are introduced to the leeches which make the grass dance. They can smell our blood and are racing toward us. I am repulsed, but make a valiant attempt to ignore it. It only took one viewing of Stand by Me to realize leeches are not cool and I don’t want them to touch me.

There’s a path we are directed towards. Bitten fruit cover a rough decline. A sign of monkeys who had just been snacking. The path opens up to a natural arena. On all sides are dense woods, but a clearing with one huge tree and scenic pond greets us. It seems an oasis.

But surely this couldn’t been Eden without a snake. First the Mountain Trinket is pulled from what looks like a cleaned plastic Cheese Ball container and the snake is passed around. Snake Satish offers it to me. I say no. I shake my head. I have no interest in snakes. Their bodies are weird and I don’t like how they move with no legs and all slither. Sensing my apprehension, he puts the snake in my hands. I freeze. The snake freezes.

I have to admit, I was a bit mesmerized.
But nonetheless relieved when he took it from me.

It was passed around to people more experienced at snake care and cuddling. The Mountain Trinket isn’t venomous, but I don’t imagine being bit by one would be fun. I’m glad to see it nowhere near me.

Snake Satish motions like he is going to put it over my head. I grimace. But I remember my elementary school self in science class letting my friend’s show-and-tell snake drape itself around my neck. I summon up some of that courage and stoop so he can hang it around me. Fearing it will slide straight into my shirt I carefully maneuver it back into my hands and Snake Satish congratulates me.

Honestly, I feel accomplished.

I turn to watch others hold it (or not hold it, looking at you Dr. Grant). While behind me, Snake Satish is whipping a King Cobra out of a fabric sack.

Snake with mountain trinket

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A brief interlude in our narrative for some cold hard facts about King Cobras:

Diet: Carnivore
Size: 13 ft (4 m)
Weight: Up to 20 lbs (9 kg)
Average life span in the wild: 20 years

Their venom is not the most potent among venomous snakes, but the amount of neurotoxin they can deliver in a single bite—up to two-tenths of a fluid ounce (seven milliliters)—is enough to kill 20 people, or even an elephant.
When confronted, they can raise up to one-third of their bodies straight off the ground and still move forward to attack
The bite of the King Cobra with envenomation can be rapidly fatal (as early as 30 minutes)
The closest antivenom available was in Bangkok

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So, knowing all of this, I stay back – watching as Snake Satish and one of his friends, Boss, distract the snake. They made him rise up and sway. They even took turns “petting” the king, tapping the back of its head.

Until Snake Satish dragged me to crouch behind it. He left me there to pull another student, Austin, to sit. We crouched there for what felt like centuries.

In India, snakes are not killed. So eventually the snake was set free into the wild. It had been caught to be released somewhere farther from people and closer to its habitat.

That was the first time I had ever crouched before a King, and I hope, the last.

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Understanding India: Around the Coffee Plantation

Around the Coffee Plantation

A few days into the trip we ventured into the coffee plantations. Wild elephants kept meandering through the coffee plantations looking for sustenance they could not find in the forests. We traveled here specifically for these wild elephants, trying to determine why they came into the plantations, how farmers deal with the costly invasion of a troupe of elephants, what the government does to assist farmers, and if there were any solutions to keep them at bay. Coffee normally is not appealing to me, but I found myself at every sitting throwing back a small cup of richly flavored and properly sugared coffee. And now, since suddenly converting to a coffee drinker, I found myself in the middle of a plantation seeing how coffee is grown – something I had never even considered understanding before. We took galloping jeeps into the heart of the plantation. The owner was taking us where he had been warned elephants had entered.

Each of us meandered through the plantation. I had little concern for actually being trampled, until we heard them. How many was it? Eight or more? All silently clopping through the coffee. Huge animals managed to tiptoe through the plantation, the sound of trees being crushed being the only indication of their presence. Quiet. I crouched, as did the people around me, listening. “You can hear their ears flapping,” I was told. And in truth, I believe I could. “We should go.” Collectively we turned, ran, hiked back to the jeeps hoping the elephants would be as interested in avoiding us as we were them. One in our group followed Snake Satish, an independent conservationist who works closely with animals, through the trees following the elephant horde carrying a camera. Meanwhile we spoke with locals. They showed us the “crackers” they used to scare the elephants away. No one would injure the elephants; they are sacred. As the elephants edged towards the border of the plantation villagers could be heard shouting and clapping, setting off their own crackers trying to get the elephants to turn away. And this is the constant battle, where the elephants are buffeted back and forth destroying along the way, looking for sanctuary.

Around the Coffee Plantation
Around the Coffee PlantationAround the Coffee Plantation
Around the Coffee Plantation

 

Story and photos by Shelby Evans

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UNDERSTANDING INDIA: RANGANATHITTU BIRD SANCTUARY

Ranganathittu Bird SanctuaryIt was like a scene from Jurassic Park. Our group piled into a boat with bench seats and a canopy, each of us accessorized with some combination of cameras, tripods, monopods, go pros and life vests. One man rowed us in between small islands, all occupied by exotic and unusual birds. Crocodiles sunbathed on giant, half submerged stones, and bats swung lazily from tree branches. At one point our boat captain, rower, and steerer saddled us up right next to a mother crocodile resting on one of the stones. Everyone in the boat shifted, avoiding the edge where surely if provoked the mama would snap. I kept my distance while my peer Austin eagerly held out a gopro trying to get a close up shot of the smiling croc. There was nervous laughter as we pulled away, noticing that the oarsman almost smacked the giant croc on the tail. The river Cauvery carved and created a cool, relaxing place for all species. Even monkeys calmly sauntered over the land as we made our way through the park. Under the shade of taffy pulled trees and in between breezes we all marveled at this place, a unique natural habitat. Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
“The sanctuary is quite popular both among Indian and foreign tourists. Apart from home to native avian habitants, the sanctuary each year attracts a large number of migratory birds. Wildlife experts believe that migratory birds come to this sanctuary as far as from Siberia, Australia and even North America.
Some of the birds you come across on your birding tour to Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary include snake bird, darters, spoonbills, river tern, open bill storks, white Ibis, little cormorants, egret, heron, stone plougher, kingfisher and partridge.” (Read more)
Ranganathittu Bird SanctuaryRanganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Ranganathittu Bird SanctuaryRanganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Story and photos by Shelby Evans

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UNDERSTANDING INDIA: MYSORE PALACE

Mysore Palace

From 1399 to 1974 Maharajas lived in Mysore Palace. Featuring unique architecture, sprawling lawns and eight different temples, the palace is often referred to as a fort. The current palace is actually the fourth to be built at this location, the previous structure was burned down in 1897. The other iterations of the Mysore palace were destroyed by lightning strike, political upheaval, demolition, and finally disrepair leading to a fire. Before entering the palace we had to remove our shoes and stow our cameras. No photos inside the historic palace! I was funneled through the entrance crowded by sarees, slacks and bare toes.

Our group followed the stream of people past glass cases filled with historic artifacts, replicas, and other objects of note. Then the main structure with ornate stained glass, towering pillars and open courtyards had me awestruck. Oil paintings told the history of the palace and its residents. Portions of the palace were open air, facing either an open courtyard in which the palace would host events like brass knuckle fist fights. On the second floor was a room with one wall missing, overlooking one of the many gardens and entrances. With infinite pillars and intricate woodcarving, it was hard to fathom living in such a structure. Wooden doors and ceilings looked like melting chocolate bars, heavy and carved and sweating from the humidity. Ivory inlaid carvings and silver thrones emphasized extravagance. Mysore, known as the City of Palaces, lived up to its name.

All around the palace fort where statues of past Maharaja and government buildings imitated the style of the palace. Around the main entrance of the palace was an open air market where children were entranced by flying toys and men barked about the quality of their hand carved wooden boxes. We toured the surrounding area by rickshaw. The young, soft-spoken guide would turn to me to point out significant structures and stop at different entrances for us to photograph.

Mysore Palace
Mysore Palace
Mysore Palace

Mysore Palace

 

Story and photos by Shelby Evans

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