Friday, 19 November 2010
India - an Introduction - Part I
India, the birth place of the honourable Mahatma Ghandi, a man who inspired and changed the world through pacifism and acts of bravery in the face of oppression and adversity. So when I found out that I would be touching down on India soil, and staying there for 10 weeks, with other volunteers, teaching in schools and doing community work, I was surprised to say the least, and a little bit overwhelmed, simply because I had never expected, anticipated, or conceived that I would travel to India during the course of my existence. Now, as I write this, in a stuffy internet cafe, with a fan above on the ceiling trying to suppress the overwhelming heat, I share some of my thoughts weeks into the program.
When we arrived in New Delhi International Airport, the first thought that came into my mind was 'wow, it's hot', as if I had expected otherwise, and still dressed in clothing that is suitable for the weather on an ordinary day in London, which, I'd like to add I am not missing,I quickly began to take off the layers. I then began to look around,and noticed how many armed officers and soldiers there were, and so consequently, the second thought that entered my mind - given the communication barrier coupled with the fact that I was about a foot taller than everyone else - was 'no sudden movements, you will not make the news out here', which was, undoubtedly, a significant misconception, which I soon came to discover after some light-hearted banter with the officers. Hours later, we were on a rickety coach traveling on the roads, making our way to the intended destination of Jaipur. The traffic was chaotic to say the least, comparable to the weaving in and out that you have to do on a busy in Dalston market. You'll be lucky if you don't crash into anyone, and by way of some divine grace, we didn't, and eventually made it to Jaipur in one piece. If ever a testimony of miracles were needed, this instance would surely qualify.
Jaipur is a beautiful city, the architecture is an amalgam of ancient and modern buildings, the hustle and bustle of the city during the day, combined with the serenity of country side surroundings in the evenings. My only regret is that we were only there for a few days, most of which were spent being given lectures and talks, so as a result, we didn't really get a chance to explore. We then made our way to Jaisalmir, in Rajahstan, India, 12 hours, overnight on a sleeper train, which is only good if you would like to discover how sardines feel in a can, nonetheless, I embraced every aspect of it, as it is part of the experience, irregardless of the fact that 1/3 third of my body was to big for the bed that I slept on, which subsequently resulted in my feet hanging halfway through the carriage, and people constantly hitting their heads on them, as I was on the upper bunk. When we arrived at Jaisalmir rail way station, a similar thought had entered my mind as did before...'It is hot!' It felt like the sun was doing cartwheels on my back. We arrived at the camp where myself, and the other volunteers would be staying, which is a desertified region, with virtually nothing all around.
That night, after we had dinner, I felt the sudden urge to seek solace, and to discover a type of inner peace that had so eluded me throughout my time in London, so I went for a walk, and sat, underneath the moonlight of that night sky. The myriad of constellations put on a show above, as shooting stars danced across them, and as I lay on the sand, I thought to myself, 'India, I think I'm going to like it here'.
More to come...