Friday, August 5, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to all my friends and the city of Jodhpur was very difficult. I have gotten used to day-to-day life at Durag Niwas Guest House and my work with Sambhali Trust. There is so much that I have learned from this experience, and I am so incredibly thankful for everyone who has helped me. My friends and working are the obvious things that I will miss, but here a few small things that I will miss from my life in Jodhpur:

Masala Chai and the Times of India in the morning: is it weird that everyone was really excited about the paper? This paper had everything: national news, international news, bollywood gossip, and best of all the Speaking Tree. The Speaking Tree was this small paragraph in the middle of the paper that was usually life advice, but it was really good, and I even cut out a few to remember. The paper also had an NGO spotlight, which was interesting to read.

Taking the city bus: this was an experience all on its own. It was never clear how much the bus cost, somewhere between 5-7 rupees, depending on the mood of the bus collector. It was always somewhat of a fight, which was made difficult by the fact that I didn’t speak Hindi and they didn’t speak English. One of them even yelled at me saying: “No English! Only Marwari!” Marwari is the Rajsathani language, which I understand even less than Hindi.

Being in the kitchen: Some of my best memories of my stay are in the kitchen. It is where I went when I was bored or when I just wanted to speak to Mukta or Raj (the women of the house and my friends). I loved watching these women cook, asking them tons of questions about food and Indian culture. I also loved to help Papu and Ashuk make chapattis. It took me a couple tries to learn, and I still have not perfected making them round, but nonetheless it was a great experience.

Sitting in the Rain: By July, monsoon season had picked up, and this meant random rains here and there. Warm rain is the best thing I have ever experienced, and it was fun to sit in the rain or just watch from under the canopy. Of course, rain is also followed by sporadic power-outages, which often spelled out sitting in the complete dark watching the rain. It was great fun.

Visiting National Handloom and Fresh and Green: My life would have been very different if I didn’t have these two stores in Jodhpur (a super store and grocery store respectively). Whether it was to go and get my mango or kulfi fix, or to see strange products like health sandwich (cream, cabage, onions, between a hotdog bun), Paneer dog (hot dog bun with cheese cubes and spices), Indian snacks, knick knacks, and to experience the confusing packing method (take item to packing station, get receipt from packing station, go to paying station on first floor, pay and get receipt stamped, go to pickup station, wait for packages that have not been sent down yet, get package and get receipt stamped for third time). It was a great place to people watch as well, and to get anything that you really needed.

Lightning storms: I have never experienced thunderstorms like that in Jodhpur. The sky would often be lit up for a good 4-5 seconds, which might not seem too long until you actually experience it. It was often too far to hear the thunder, so we would just experience watching the sky crack open with electricity. It was amazing to watch. The best view was from the roof of Durag Niwas, which was one of my favorite hang out spots on its own, but the best during lightning storms.

Dancing with the girls: My first Saturday with Sambhali Trust, the girls insisted that I dance with them. They showed me their dancing, and wanted me to dance as well. It was a lot of fun, and this continued throughout the weeks of my stay. It was even more fun in July because another volunteer, Marta, started teaching Bollywood stay dance that she learned in London. To watch everyone dance and enjoy all aspects of it was incredibly fun. All the girls were so keen on having everyone included and dancing, and they would never just let you watch their steps, you also had to follow and show some of your dance moves as well. It was a good way to spend Saturdays.

I hope that I can return soon, but for now I wish everyone in Jodhpur and Sambhali Trust all the best!