Clara Kollm

Clara Kollm (Chintan Environmental Action and Research Group - Chintan): During her undergraduate study, Clara worked abroad in Thailand and travelled widely in Southeast Asia. At the time of her fellowship, she was pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park. While at UMD, Clara also completed a minor in International Development and Conflict Management and a certificate in Public Leadership. She also interned in Washington D.C. with a non-profit environmental law firm, Earthjustice. After her fellowship Clara wrote: "Being in India and learning about an international NGO is invaluable to me and my education. This experience ...has given me a greater appreciation for the human condition. This was my first experience with that level of poverty, and I predict that this experience will continue to influence my life choices.”


09 Jun

Today marks the one-week anniversary of my arrival in Delhi! Although I was nervous about how I would acclimate, it couldn’t be better. The weather was probably my biggest concern, as it usually hovers around 105F, but since my arrival I have survived a day that was 111F and learned to drink about 3 liters of water before dinner to help deter heat exhaustion. Now that I’ve been here a week, I also feel comfortable saying that Delhi is a carb-o-holic’s dream city. I can’t get enough of the rava masala dosa, paneer nann, and butter nann. When I take a break from the bread and potatoes, it’s usually for sweets, which lead to the (un)fortunate instance when I tried to order two scoops of ice cream, only to be served two separate, but equally wonderfully, ice cream cones.

My accommodation is fantastic – I’m walking distance from my office, a Café Coffee Day, the Central Market, and the metro station. The market is potentially dangerous because I’ve already purchased two scarves (which are obviously necessary in this climate) and my coffee addiction has not wavered. At my house there is also a resident stray cat with kittens (she lives on the roof) but I avoid her because I saw her carrying a rat up the stairs yesterday. With the monsoon coming, I’m curious to see if I will be able to continue to walk around so freely.

My Accommodation

From my balcony, I have an excellent view of a little green area where yesterday I saw some men lowering a steel beam with only a pulley system and their feet. This picture doesn’t capture the ingenuity.

This is the green area across the street from my accomodation, look closely and see a man on the right holding a basic pulley system to lower that steel beam.

Additionally, my housemates and colleagues are fantastic. Abby and Laura are interns at Chintan with me, so click through for their blogs. Make sure to give them some comment love! While you’re at it, “Like” Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on Facebook – one of my projects is to expand the visibility of this page and possibly create one for the waste-pickers to update themselves, but more on my projects at a later date.

Delhi is just like any other rapidly developing city, but a few things did surprise me. First, the metro has a “ladies only” car. At first I didn’t understand the appeal of the segregation, but then I experienced what can only be called a stampede of commuters rushing on and off the train. It is not taboo to push; in fact, good luck trying to get off the metro car without pushing or being pushed. The process is fairly dramatic and I can understand how women, especially with small children, prefer not to get trampled. This setup also allows for a small safety net after dark, which gives women who travel alone to feel a little more secure in the infamous Delhi evenings. I have really come to appreciate this car’s presence.

I was also surprised that I have to get a pat-down every time I enter the metro, just like at the airport. There is also an xray machine. Lastly, I was surprised to find that most people work at least every other Saturday. Many individuals at my office work long hours and rarely have a day off! Not my favorite Delhi tradition.

Check back soon 🙂

Hindi phrase of the day: queseho? How are you?

Posted By Clara Kollm

Posted Jun 9th, 2011


  • Ravi & Sree

    June 10, 2011



    Nice to here your experiences in New Delhi. Your observations about ‘ladies only’ car are correct. There are many other factors which led to continue with ‘ladies only’ cars in metro and also we have ‘ladies only’ buses. ‘Pickpocketing’ is one other big reason. Also, you will see seperate line for women in train reservation counters and multiple other places, 😉

    Any plans to visit Agra (Taj Mahal) during this trip?

  • Jen Littlefield

    June 10, 2011


    Clara – thanks so much for the pictures! You are doing great… keep up the great work and keep enjoying it. Time will fly so appreciate all the moments. I’m loving following along!

  • Pedro Rushlow

    June 10, 2011


    You would think I would get tired of reading all these blogs. But I love it! You never know what you come across, especially on line. Thanks for your post though I appreciated it.

  • Delois Zamor

    June 10, 2011


    This is beneficial. I am certain it will help me in what I am doing. I’m going to share this with my friends.

  • Gary Kollm

    June 12, 2011


    Clara it is so cool to hear about your India adventure. The blog is interesting and we will be following your work through the summer. U Gary & A Mary

  • Benjamin Hoylton

    June 13, 2011


    I sort of came across your blog by accident looking for something else. I was glad I did though it is great. I just wanted to let you know I stopped by your page!

  • mary kollm

    June 13, 2011


    Dear Clara
    I really enjoyed reading your blog.It is very interesting and I will be looking forward to your future comments.You say the weather is hot, well it is hot here too,love you.

  • Ariel Fuerman

    June 13, 2011


    This would have been good for me five years ago. Great Post

  • Deeksha

    June 15, 2011


    Clara, I am glad to learn about your experiences in Delhi and to know that you have adjusted well. Delhi is a big historic city. Do take out some time on weekend to visit some of these places. I am sure you would survive the summer and the monsoon season. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  • Kristina

    June 16, 2011


    Clara, your setup looks great! I fully support your carb-loving ways. And that’s really interesting about the ladies-only cars on the metro, but great that steps have been taken to keep the women of Delhi safe (that wouldn’t be such a bad idea in NYC). Keep doing great things and stay safe!

  • Mark

    June 17, 2011


    Hey Clara

    Peg forwarded your blog link and had an airport rain delay perfect for catching up on it. So glad you were able to make it there. Was there maybe 5-6 years ago. Trip was way too short but the food is amazing and the people fantastic so I’m jealous! Anyway,enjoy your time there and keep those posts coming whenever you can!

  • Jong Koerber

    June 22, 2011


    Reading your blog was an amazing experience for me. I was not expecting such a great quality. Thank you. Please do not stop posting new blogs.

  • Clara Kollm

    June 30, 2011


    Ravi & Sree – I was able to visit the Taj Mahal last weekend! It was absolutely incredible!

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