Another Week Down


Now I can check seeing one of the seven wonders of the world off my bucket list.

We went to the Taj Mahal! As to be expected it was amazing.  I’m sure tax payers in those days weren’t down with paying 40 million rupees, but I’m really glad they did. It’s cool to see culture preserved in such an amazing structure.

Because it’s India we had quite the crazy travel time. We thought we had our overnight train tickets all set to go, but then a couple hours before, we found out we were only on standby. By some miracle we made it on the train, and I even got upgraded to second class. Living the luxurious life over here let me tell you! Second class means I got my own bed, a curtain, a little fan, and a plug. It was great.

After the Taj we took a bus to Delhi. My bus bunk buddy was Chloe and a dirty diaper. You would be surprised how hard trashcans are to come by. Delhi was hot and busy and most of the team was sick by that point, but we went to the coolest Hindu temple ever. It was magnificent. Pictures aren’t allowed, but it was the most intricate building made completely of marble with gold statues. The grandeur was incredible. Then we went to a really cool light and water show, and ate some world-class kulfi, which is a delicious ice cream popsicle type thing.

It was a good trip to Delhi, but it was really nice to get back to Nagpur. It felt like coming home. I’m pleasantly surprised at how excited I was to get back to work. I honestly didn’t think I would like it this much. Part of me feels like I’m kind of just treading in deep water but it’s like I’m treading with a floaty and piece of cheesecake so it’s equal parts terrified and enjoying myself.

This week we got ten new volunteers! So that means 19 people living in our little flat.  Cramped quarters, full hearts, can’t shower. Despite me showering less, I’ve loved introducing all the new people to our projects.  They are brimming with new ideas and experiences that will really inspire and help the people here.

Caitlin has the best story from these week, so I’ll just paste it in here.

“A few days ago our group had lunch at a restaurant called Tauby’s. One of the boys who served our food asked us why we were in India, to which we explained that we are a service group and mentioned that we teach English classes. The young man told us his name was Shibum and happily asked if he could come to a class sometime. Travis told him we were holding one the next day at a nearby slum. Shibum assured us he would be there. But, doubting he’d come, we forgot about it. 

The next day after a busy morning we made our way through the busier streets to find the Buddhist temple where we conduct some of our classes. Just as we stepped foot in a flooded alley to enter the slum, we heard a loud-honking motorbike zoom up behind us and heard strong voice call “Sir! Sir! Stop! Sir!” Travis turns around as a young man dismounts his motorcycle and runs toward Travis. Thinking he was being accosted and about to get into a fight, Travis braces for impact, but just as the boy is within a foot of him, he stops dead. He looks at us expectantly. “Sir, you remember me?…Here for English class?” It was Shibum from Tauby’s! We were so pleased and amazed that he remembered to come and was so excited to learn. One of our volunteers held a private English tutoring session for him that night. Experiences like this help us remember why we are here and realize what kind of impact we can have on a single individual.”

Speaking of individuals, this week I finally got to meet Leah in person. Leah is one of the co-founders of Women in Need and I’ve been communicating with her on the phone and email but I actually got to hear her British accent in the flesh! She’s blunt, kind, and funny.  During our meeting, she summed up India perfectly for me. She said,  “India is a land of contradictions.” It’s so true.  India is full of the kindest. most hospitable people, and Uber drivers who drive you in circles to rack up your bill. I’ve met so many women engineers, doctors, and capable leaders, but still women are in so many aspects, second-class citizens.  India is equal parts disorganized chaos, and more unnecessary paperwork then I have ever had to deal with in my life.  I love it, I hate it, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, even if it means smelling a little worse than usual.