38 Days In India- Day 5

On day 5, the chaos FINALLY became the norm. I had seen this in the eyes of the other volunteers when I arrived. They no longer flinched as we almost got in 10 traffic accidents while driving to the school. They walked around the streets without worry of their feet getting dirty or the fact that we were all dripping sweat for most of the day. When I saw it, I didn’t know how to achieve it. I didn’t ever think that I wouldn’t fear for my life every time I got in a vehicle here. I didn’t ever think I wouldn’t be bothered as I sat drenched in my own sweat for most of the day, but I was wrong.

I haven’t seen one accident since I got here, which trust me is a miracle. Violetta, the German who studies psychology told me it has something to do with traffic psychology. That there are actually less accidents when people are left to sort of figure it out and depend on communicating with each other to not crash. I couldn’t help but think that seems true. I don’t see any cars here with dents or bumpers falling off like I see back home where there are SO many rules and regulations on the road. I used to hate that there was no rhyme or reason to the roads here, but maybe thats the natural way of doing things. Maybe human beings can figure it all out by just being present and communicating.

Anyway, onto the days events! I was so pleased to see sandwiches at breakfast this morning…cheese and tomato. I don’t even like tomato, but it wasn’t Indian food so I was just going to have to suck it up and enjoy it. By the way, I am the ONLY person who says toe-may-toe here. Everyone thinks its quiet funny, and to be honest ta-ma-toe DOES sound a lot prettier. I also had some corn flakes with banana, which is weird to everyone but our new Scottish volunteer. Italians, Germans and Swiss people do not put bananas in their cereal. They do however eat bananas with butter on toast, which I definitely think is odd.

I headed down to the office to start putting together profiles for the kids that still need to be sponsored for the school year. I gathered photos of these kids and sat with one of the trustees to get the stories of these children to share. My heart broke with each and every one. In America we have our problems, but I know how impossible it is for us to imagine the kind of problems that they have here. I am talking, child grooms and child brides. I am talking about parents not being able to afford to send their kids to school. On top of that, the homes in America that are low income would be plush and lavish in comparison to the slums that poverty striken people live in here.

Last night I had a dream about going to the grocery store with my Mom. I walked the pristine white-tiled aisle ways, passed the orchids in the flower section and went to look at all the fresh veggies being kept moist by the misters. I vividly remember how a grocery store smells as I’m writing this. It smells clean and fresh. In Jodhpur, you cannot find pristine and clean. I went to the “expensive” grocery and everything was dirty, the floors, the baskets, the countertops. I now understood why many people around the world are so in awe of America, it is the dream. I am an American, and being here for 5 days has even caused it to be my dream.

For lunch, I had my leftover pizza which really hit the spot. I then went to the office to check out game and some toys for the boarding home. I brought toys, games, and crafts with me for the kids from home thinking that I would take everything and give them to the kids. When I showed everything to the founder he was over the moon but told me I should make a check out sheet so that volunteers could take with them and bring them back. At first, I didn’t understand this. They were just things from the dollar tree and the Michael’s sale section. After visiting the boarding home I realized that these girls didn’t have anything like the things I brought. They especially didn’t own anything besides their backpacks an a few outfits. The things that they played with, they all shared and that wasn’t much. A plastic horse for the baby and a book or two if they were lucky. Most only have their school comprehension books to read stories from. . Today I brought a Dr.Seuss bingo game because I promised Noshi and Krishna I would, paddle balls, and stickers to give away for reading and homework. Today we also had some photographers joining us from a volunteer program. One of them brought a ukulele, the kids went nuts for that. They love music, singing and dancing. As I looked on at all of them dancing around and smiling I got emotional.

These kids have nothing in the eyes of an American because they don’t have toys, or ipads, or a closet full of clothes, or a room with a door or a soft bed to lie in at night but then again…they have everything. They have joy and love. They love each other and they love every person that walks through that boarding home door. They share their joy as they dance with the sisters and friends, as they sing beside one another. They also have education, which no one can take away.

The founder of the trust told me something that I’m sure I’ve heard before but it just sounded different this time and had much more meaning. “I don’t want to just give someone a fish, I want to teach them how to fish.” I realized, that is what I am doing here. Sambhali is teaching girls that would otherwise not be taught in order to give them the tools to feed their mind, body and soul. What we are doing is more than donating toys or clothes to children is need it is donating education. No matter what has happened and what will happen in these girls lives, they will forever have this.

We all piled back in the van and headed back to the guest house. I was meeting a girl named Andy from Global Giving back at the house so we could go to town to buy more Indian clothes. We did not have enough and are supposed to wear them when we go to the programs or the boarding schools. The dress code here for women is…cover everything except your biceps, elbows, forearms and in most cases your head. This dress code was definitely invented by a man. There is no way a woman would think to put pants under a dress, which they call a kurta here. If you are married, you get perks. You get to wear a saree, which means that your stomach is exposed. Do you see how happy that woman in the photo looks? I’m sure her body temperature is at least 5 degrees cooler.

We took a tuktuk to the square which is likely one of the loudest places on earth. It is SO full of life. You smell spices but don’t breathe in too long because you will start to smell cow poop or body order as well, you see kids running and motorcycles whooshing by, tuktuks that want you to move out of their way, many men trying to get you to talk to them and lots and lots of vibrant colors. We attempted for 10 minutes to find the shop we were told to go to, a lot of people were trying to help us but were definitely confusing the words left and right. We finally got here an we had about 15 minutes to try things on. There were colorful kurtas and scarves being thrown at us along with promises of the best deals and tailoring if needed. I attempted to try something on but attempting to peel the existing clothes from my sweaty body was not working. I grabbed what I thought would work and we jumped back in the tuktuk to head back home.

Tonight, WE HAD PASTA FOR DINNER. I repeat, WE HAD PASTA FOR DINNER. It was the closest thing to non-Indian food I had had since I got here. The pizza was great but you could tell it was Indian pizza. The pasta didn’t taste like pasta from home BUT it didn’t have many spices which meant no heartburn for me! I popped some popcorn for the girls and I for desert and me, Arabella and Carolyn (our new Scottish volunteer) watched the Chelsea Handler India episode. I started to doze off watching it so hurried up to bed as soon as it finished. The power went out again last night, which always scares me because it makes a big noise and then my fan turns off. Usually I am only left to sweat for about 30 minutes before it’s back on again. Tomorrow, we get to do yoga in the morning! Not sure if it’ll be okay to wear my yoga pants that I brought, but we shall see. Also, I am going to get that omelette…I was totally distracted by that sandwich this morning an forgot all about it. Typical.

Moral of today’s story, happiness doesn’t come from things and comfort doesn’t come from luxury. We can be our own comfort and education can change the world.

Namaste!

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