Tuesday, January 12, 2010

India Blog 2

We made the first of our village visits today. Yesterday was a recuperation day since we’d been traveling for about 48 hours non-stop. It was good to have a hot shower and sleep in a bed for a change. It was the first time I had been able to sleep laying down since the trip began. Thankfully, people are still in good spirits and full of energy as demonstrated by the chorus of Disney songs that were sung on the bus ride home tonight. I think the girls are even starting to trust our drivers a little more as there are no longer as many shrieks when we avoid collision by inches.

Today was really good. I always seem to over prepare myself emotionally for these kinds of trips but I think I’m finally starting to realize I don’t need to be sad for these people. They earn much less than Americans and own next to nothing. They sleep in grass huts and run around barefoot. Though I do think it’s our responsibility to give them a helping hand, we don’t need to be sad for them. The kids here have a joy that is very rare to experience in the US.

That’s the thing that has hit me the hardest on this trip. We look around at the way things are done here and think they are weird. Their traffic system is different and most in the US would consider it crazy, but it seems to work. The food they eat is different (and delicious) but many would hold their nose and never try it. Their singing is different, their movies are different, everything is different, but that’s just the thing. It’s not weird, it’s not wrong it’s just different. To me, labeling something “weird” is hinting at superiority and though we may have more stuff, we’re not superior. We have everything and are not happy, they have nothing and are. Maybe we’re the ones who are weird.

But enough with philosophy, the experiences today were really amazing. We first visited a remote village that Vijay (our guide) has been working with. We met in their church (a concrete building about the size of a living room) and some of the women stood and lead us in songs (out of a snowman note book). After this we were treated to a tribal dance by some of the men and were then asked to lead something of our own. We sang Father Abraham and tried to get the kids to sing along with us. After this it was back to the church were we handed out crayons and lollipops for the kids and Saris for the women as well as some assorted hand me down clothes for who-ever they would fit. We mingled with the people, ate a quick lunch and then played a game called Coco with the kids. It is similar to duck duck goose but a lot more fun and it even makes you use your brain a little. After our game, we said our good byes and got back on the bus. From here we went to several different villages and met with the people. Though I did feel a little strange pulling up and just walking around and looking at stuff, the people in the villages loved it and a crowd always gathered. Vijay told us that many of these people have never seen a white person and some didn’t even know they existed. Some of the really young children were even a little scared. You could probably liken the experience to meeting a Martian I suppose. We were treated to some REAL Chai Tea as well as coconut milk straight out of a coconut that had just come off the tree. I really don’t think there could be a better way to visit this country.

A few of my personal observations from this trip so far would be:
1. It’s very hard not to eat with my left hand. In India, it’s customary to eat with your right hand. Your right hand is for eating, your left for going to the bathroom.
2. We have all been sitting/standing for so long on this trip, all of our ankles are swollen. They look like kankles really.
3. India has either the best, or the worst drivers in the world.
4. A close call in the US is Sunday driving in India.
5. They need to start selling Tata Motors in the US. If they can withstand the rigors they are put through here, they would last a lifetime in the states.
6. If we had used the kind of ceiling fans in the US that they use here, we wouldn’t need air conditioning.

I don’t know if I will have internet access after tonight, but I will continue to write. Unfortunately the internet here is not fast enough to upload pictures, but I’ll do that first thing when I get back in the states. We’re taking a lot.

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