May 31, 2010
Namaste everyone. I am in India a second time thanks to the Center for South Asian Studies, and I could not be happier! I am working with a non-profit organization called The Hope Project. Hope is located in the Muslim neighborhood of Delhi called Nizamuddin, and was founded by the famous Sufi saint Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. The Hope Project has three main sectors, an education sector that offers classes for primary aged children, as well as a girls school and English classes. The health sector is comprised of a fully functioning health clinic that is accessible to all members of the community. The third sector, the one I will be working in primarily, is devoted to Income Generation and Micro-finance for community women. There is the introduction, and here goes explaining the last few days. I arrived in India this past Thursday May 28th at about 1230 AM. A friend of mine (that I made last year while staying in Delhi with the university program GIEU) kindly offered to pick me up from the airport, even at such a late hour. Since I arrived so late, I knew that the Hope Project would be closed so instead of going to a hotel or guest house near Nizamuddin I opted to take my friend's offer to stay a night with his family. I arrived at his house a bit apprehensive because this was my first time as a guest in an Indian family's home, and I wanted to make sure I didn't do anything inadvertently offensive.
I really can not describe the hospitality his family showed me. I was given a room to myself and his mother even prepared a meal of chipati, dal, and lassi for us when I arrived at 2:00 am. I was thinking, Wow, my mother would never have gotten out of bed at 2 am to prepare a meal for a friend of mine she had never met. I was beyond grateful, especially because I was hungry. I slept well that night and spent the rest of the day with his sisters who are my age. We watched a tv show called Chak Chak Doom Doom. It is like a judged dance show for VERY talented Indian children. I enjoyed that show very much, it brought a lot of smiles and laughs to everyone, which was a relief from the struggles of the language barrier (which is especially horrible because my friend's family is Punjabi, and they speak Punjabi rather than Hindi). After this we ate lunch (dal..so delicious) but I came down with a pretty bad headache. As soon as I said this , my friends mother was kneeling on the floor next to my bed, massaging and applying pressure to my head. Nothing beats homemade remedies. I felt better within 15 minutes. We spent the afternoon on the roof terrace helping my friends parents sweep and clean and tend to the plants, mostly because the weather was unbeatbale in Delhi. I was thoroughly surprised. After our work, my friend's father returned with Chocobars (chocolate ice cream bars!) for everyone. We sat on a bench (a bed made of woven seat belt material) that apparently was 30 years old. I spent one more night at my friend's house and woke up very early the next morning to accompnay his father and Uncle to their workplace (a tourist office in Connaught Place, the central part of Delhi) There, I finally was able to see my friend again. He is always busy working. We split a cucumber tomato sandwich for lunch, we had the signature cup of chai, and I got in a rickshaw and was off to Nizamuddin and the Hope Project. That sums up Days 1 and 2 so far and I must say I am finding India to be even more intriguing than when I left it. It is still full of challenges, distractions, dust, and dirt, but I am seeing it with my eyes only this time, not in the presence of a group, and I can already tell that I am going to learn more about this place (and even more about myself) than I ever imagined. Feeling a bit tired now, it was a long, hot (but successful) day at Hope. I plan on going out into the Basti (neighborhood) and buying a small bag of chocolate chip cookies for 10 rupees. I will eat them tomorrow with morning chai. More to come later. Good night friends.
Posted by amissy at May 31, 2010 09:33 AM