Written By Olivia
Namaste! This is Olivia, it’s my turn to write the blog for this week, and to tell you about our most recent adventures in beautiful India!
So, after our classes ended in diversely magical and superbly creative Jaipur, we found ourselves headed with Rishi-Ji and Kiran-Ji onto another train, this time headed to Udaipur and the Jhadol desert village. We tried our best to sleep on the (key word being “tried”) train, after some confusion that Rishi-Ji helped us sort out with seat changes. He handles situations so masterfully and with such a calm air, it’s amazing! I hope to have an ounce of his nonchalance someday. We made it from a lovely short morning in Udaipur to our loooong fancy bus (we each had our own row???) and two hour bus ride through the desert!
We spent the last four days partially at an educational NGO in the desert and partially at beautiful home stays in an Adivasi village about a five minute walk through the sand. My feet were perpetually covered in dust, and then after trying to wash my feet I realized they weren’t actually (that) dirty, only tan from the sun and our outside adventures. Our home stay parents in the village were amazing. None of us could communicate too clearly through our language barriers, but we communicated through laughter and smiles. Amiah, Kari, and Charlotte stayed with the village head (Amiah was ill for the first day, but made it through sheer will-power to stay with her family the next day, and farm with us!). Georgia and Owen stayed with their mom Leelah-bhai, and Zevi and I with Nakkia-bhai and Debbie-lal, though Debbie-lal was out of town working on setting up tents for events. All of our parents were very kind, and welcomed us warmly.
On the first day we woke up in the morning at around 6 am, we could see the sun rising in the desert and the slow creep of it along the sands and over the hills was inspiring and glorious. Zevi and I woke up and helped our little sister Leelah do dishes, and sweep our mothers house after being woken up by her with small forehead taps and a quiet “Chai?” question (the answer is always yes). After waking and moving around for a while, the group all met at the village head’s house where we ate breakfast, and drank even more morning chai. Afterwards we were lead into the local village school to help serve breakfast, but instead found ourselves teaching an impromptu class! (Charlotte, Owen, and Zevi came through very well with their teaching skills here, and our memory of “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” worked in our favor) Then we found our way back to take naps since no one does anything in the high heat of the desert besides conserve energy for the cooler evening. After naps and lunch we spent two hours “teaching”(playing games) with the girls in the all girl school, it was informative and fun for all of us as we traded songs and games, then went back home to spend the evening with our family and sleep on our mattresses under the stars.
On Wednesday we spent the morning farming after we had our breakfast of aloo pakora at the village heads house. We all learned how to sow a field with onions as we sang ridiculous songs and took copious water breaks under the slowly growing heat of the sun. Then we spent some time resting with a short market break for cool drinks and treats, and found our way into our second day of teaching the girls after naps in the all girls school that Rebecca, Adam, Rishi-ji, and Kiran-ji were staying at. We played heads-up 7-up, sang songs, played a game called lion and goat that left all of us out of breath, and just enjoyed each others overly exuberant interactions all together.
As we made it into our first night in a Mustache hotel in Udaipur, I asked everyone how they would describe these stays in a encompassing word and besides dusty (very real in the desert) I got these lovely responses: Kari said this experience was life-changing for her, Zevi said it was intriguing learning about a new way of living, Georgia felt that it was eye-opening for much the same reasons, Amiah said it was mind-bending, Charlotte felt that it was bittersweet with both positive experiences and connection but also the realizations of how much suffering there is, Owen felt that it was enlightening, and for me it was one of the most fulfilling experiences that I’ve had in my life’s adventure as of yet!
We were sad to leave, but look forward to our next few days learning about sustainability and art in Udaipur! We’re all grateful for the experiences and lives we’ve had the chance to be a part of, and are looking forward to our next adventures! You’ll hear from us again soon!