May 242011

I stopped writing. As obvious as a fact this may be, I still need to point it out, because it’s the why I stopped that gives sense to this last post.

So, by the third week of my program I gave up the task of trying to keep both an online and my personal journal. You see, lots of things happen in India on a single day, the sole happenings at the program with the kids everyday sometimes were enough to write pages and then back at the volunteer house another huge bunch of events would take place, or it was time to go out on the street and experience crazy Jaipur for the whole afternoon, or the Indian friends would just drop by to take us away and go have coffee… In the end, I had no time to keep writing, it is until now, back at home that I finally had time to process and get ideas on how to describe my amazing, beautiful India experience.

The first of my conclusions is that if you are either a person eager to see and learn about the world and the people living in it or one of those idealists who believes the world can be changed for the better, then you should definitely consider volunteering in India.

And so you might ask: Why India?  Well this might just be my very own, tremendously biased opinion, but I can hardly think of a country in which you will find such impressive cultural vastness, mad/fun craziness, overwhelming contrasts, functional chaos and unbelievable diversity, cultural clash, all in the same place. “India is a land you learn to love as much as you hate sometimes” as my friend Tamara says, is the best way of defining it I heard, and it’s absolutely true, so why not experience such a country?

Secondly, and most important: WHY volunteering? Well…

Almost every morning I’d get up unusually early (sleeping seems like a waste when you know that so many things are waiting outside, every day) and go downstairs to the dinning room/studio to make use of the computerand the few moments in which our internet was actually functional and time difference was still the adequate to catch some of the friends back in Mexico still online and chat for a while. At some point, music would come from upstairs: it was Mira’s wake-up call after which some loud laughter would follow: Naïc laughing either at Susan’s complaint about how early it was or Mira’s daily report on the water shortage of the toilet… Our day was starting at the volunteer house, sooner or later Priya would come inside the house carrying a huge green bag that contained our mystery breakfast for the day (hidious non-sweetened porridge on the bad days, egg on the good ones and delicious crepes to put nutella on on the really good ones), get it served on the table and make the big announcement with her funny, high-pitched voice: “BREKFAAAST!”. So the ones who were up would sit at the table to eat while Hannah -my co’worker at the program- read us the news until we realized we were starting to run late so we chunked down our scalding hot chai and go get ready. Time to go to work, to the tiny classroom in Ambedkar Nagar, to meet the beautiful demons we taught (or tried to, at least) english every day.

First stage was being driven to J.P. Fatek by our daily tuc-tuc pickup whose driver’s name we never managed to learn, “ramramsa” or “namaste” we’d say for hello and he’d answer accordingly, any more conversation attempt would always turnt out into the same funny failure due to his unexistent knowledge of English and our less-than-elemental hindi understanding, but we appreciated him and he enjoyed driving us, respect does not need words.

 Next, we would walk the streets that led to the classroom, passing by the local park with the boys playing cricket, the local shops were we could buy water in case we’d forgotten to take some from home, the fly infested spot in the street that some family (families?) clearly used as their toilet, a house outside of which it lived the skinniest calf I’ve ever seen, then some smaller alleys filled with boys and girls that’d shout our names and say hello everyday and finally get to THE place in Jaipur: a small compound of four tiny rooms surrounding a common courtyard in wich the families living in three out of them would play or wash clothes. The fourth room was our Learning Center, the place where we worked daily and little by little we saw  the beautiful events of Manish, Bhavna, Deepak, Vaishali and Firoj learning to read in English; the classroom were Dinesh, Rohit and again Firoj would show their proficient skills for math by solving “very very long very difficult multiplications” while Prmod and Rahul struggled with them; where we laughed countless times with our translator Sonu, dance to the rhythm of  Bollywood’s hits or some hilarious thing the kids called ‘the chicken song’, played games on the hot days and more importantly, the magic place where the biggest exchange of every day took place: we taught english to those kids while they gave us important, life-lasting life lessons, cheesy as it may sound. We were blessed, and this alone is reason enough to wake up every day.

And just as if the latter wasn’t enough to go to sleep evey night a happy person, every afternoon would be filled with life too, whether it was waiting for Naïc to get home and go through the daily list of pending things to do, spending long, beautiful evenings at the house’s rooftop, laughing endlessly with Priya and our crazy games and pranks, going out in the city where the haggling with tuc-tuc drivers and shopkeepers is the every day bussiness, spend long afternoons at my friend Rais’ shop, laying down and laughing in the living room with Clara, Mira and Sabrina about silly things, having dinner at Salim’s with him and his beautiful family, buying a sweet Lassi at the BMB or cold coffee at LMB Hotel, even taking Chapati (our house cat) to the vet one day without any cage and onboard of an autorickshaw was quite an experience!

 Every single day was an adventure because we let ourselves enjoy and work with every moment as it came, even the ugly ones. It’s a good reminder of how we can improve our regular, daily lives.

The truth is I could write for ages about everything that happened and lose the point of what I’m trying to say in my not-so-good English writing skills, but it’s not the intention behind this final entry on my online journal.

So: Why volunteering? That’s the question that brought the past babbling. My most definite answer would be a very indian “Why not?”. Why not go on about a trip aimed to cultivating our minds and hearts in ways different to what the regular, tourist trips do? Why not help people anywhere in the world? After all, we are all human beings, trying to achieve the hapiness and peace we’re all entitled to have. I know for me this is what India taught me and I can’t be any more grateful for finding a home in Jai Jawan Colony 129, a family in my fellow volunteers and a bunch of great, wise teachers in the people I got to come across during my 12 revealing weeks in wich, in exchange for a piece of my heart left at Jaipur, I took so much more that will define me and my future.

So… Why not?


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