Thursday, June 19, 2014

Slow Down, Stay Grateful

Near the end of trip, we made two visits to Tong Len. Tong Len, as you have read in previous posts, is a hostel for kids taken out of a local slum. What with all of the poverty and unhealthy conditions in India, Tong Len truly gave me hope for educating and caring for children in India. It was very motivating to see what a change the organization was making. The kids at the hostel are healthy and excited to interact and learn with other students. We spoke with a few older students who were in the founding class. They were well-versed at describing their past experiences and big future plans. School was not the only priority: we got front row seats to a dance recital as well.

In a matter of minutes after our arrival, each of us was holding at least two or three small hands of the children from Tong Len. After an hour or two, they were in our laps or pulling us along to the beat of their favorite songs. These quick connections contributed to our difficult departure. After leaving McLeod Ganj, we made our way back to New Delhi. After spending a day exploring and buying a few gifts, we boarded our bus and made way for the Indira Gandhi Airport. From there we went to Frankfurt, Washington, and before we knew it, we were at baggage claim in Raleigh. I can imagine us being a rough-looking (and smelling) crowd.

These past couple days have been part of an odd transition. Initially, I lounged in the air conditioning, ate sweet and sour chicken, and drank water from the faucet. Slowly, I have come to realize that these are not things I truly missed about home. Yes, I did miss my family and friends, but those material desires were quite superficial. I am starting to miss the things in India that were foreign and made me somewhat uncomfortable initially: communicating with people who do not speak my language, getting lost and finding my way in a new place, and learning about a deeper part of myself in the context of other religions. Sometimes I get sidetracked and caught up with many tasks and responsibilities. I learned many things in India, but two of the lessons that come to mind are to slow down and stay grateful.
This was a market in Old Delhi.

 Ganesh graffiti in Pushkar.

 My friend Usha.

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