6:45. Varna airport. My father is hugging me, butterflies in the stomach, but not for a thirst of a new love, but for the love of helping people.
Saying goodbye to my country, expecting something better, something that I am supposed to make it better.
After 3 flights Varna-Sofia, Sofia-Istanbul, Instanbul-New Delhi and remembering how delicious the Turkish cuisine is (during my 6 hours stay and the airport there) I am finally in India. Welcome to my dreams ready to become true.
First impressions. Black smiling people with a moustaches. Me saluting them, they are asking “How are you?” Like we are friends for years. Are we so cold in Europe so this warm Asian culture is almost unacceptable for me?
Passing trough security check. I first noticed that there are separate booths for women, I went inside and a woman policeman checked my body. I suppose this is inappropriate if done in front of other men in the airport. People call me by “miss” or “madam”, that makes me laugh, but on the other hand is really charming how gentle, respectful and educated they are in a first place.
I was again starving for food so I wanted to try their meals, even though, I read all that forums in internet how dangerous is eating indian food first days in public places and etc. Two months and a half after I realized that almost everything I read on the Internet about India was completely wrong comparing to my impression and experience. That is one of the reasons I started writing this blog in a first place. I want to tell you my story, story of Love, hope, story of finding friends, exploring new culture, helping people, story about wisdom. Story about growing, creating, about how one of the most dangerous things I have ever done, was and will be the most beneficial and unforgettable experience in my life.
Forget everything that you ever know and just read. I promise you, I will change your perception about many things. Because as we all know nothing is what it seems to be at first.
So it’s 8 of August and I am waiting my last flight from New Delhi (the capital of the Republic of India) to Udaipur, where I applied to be an English teacher in a helping center for indian kids after school studies. Udaipur the most beautiful town I have ever seen in my life!
I am still at the airport, tasting my first Indian meal. It is from the South of India and it’s called Thali. Includes several meals served in small bowls, called Katori, placed on a round tray, like white rice, curd(yoghurt) and their very famous and beloved lentil soup, called Dal. It wasn’t a big meal but it only costs 1,5 euro. Later they explain me that it is a decision of the indian government that there are no inflated prices at the airport as in the other countries I’ve visited before. It seems to me as a very fair economics but I don’t know how rational it is. After all it was a very tasteful vegan meal.
After my lunch a young man introduce himself and we had a coffee together. It is really strange. I immediately can make a difference between “small talk” with European and with Asian. With the Asian it feels like talking to a close friend. It fascinates me how open the people are here. It was really interesting life talk conversation that ended with a hug and a proposal to escort him to Mumbai where he was leaving for. I don’t remember even the name of this man but he left me with the feeling that there is somebody, in a complete different world that you actually can talk with. No hidden emotions. No names, no biographical notes, just real truth. How easy? How often do you have this kind of conversations? Is that possible even in our modern society? Especially with strangers? How often do we meet somebody so we can share a real experience without a fear of being repelled? Is it true in this case, what you give you receive as a behavior ?
It was time to catch my flight and it was completely horrible. Little plane that was older that me I guess and I remember how during the whole flight I was wondering if I am going to have a chance to do that voluntary mission or actually I am going to die in a plane crash. Funny! Later I realized that old or not, like this plane, things are useful in India, and they don’t throw them away because they don’t look that much pretty anymore. Things are valuable because are useful to people, not just because they are pretty. So I landed and the founder of the organization Samvit came to pick me up from the airport which is situated 20 km from Udaipur.
And then during the travel with his car, India came to me…
Have you seen a National geographic movie, because I was actually participating in one. Amazing! The roads were horrible, even worse than in a Bulgarian village but everything was green and all surrounded with animals. There were cows, bulls, goats and even I saw a herd of camels. Can you imagine while being inside of your car, a passing herd of camels? Incredibly exotic! Something unpleasant was how skinny were all the animals on the road, especially all the cows(which you know are holly animals in India. Some trace the cow’s sacred status back to Lord Krishna, one of the faith’s most important figures. He is said to have appeared 5,000 years ago as a cowherd, and is often described as bala-gopala, “the child who protects the cows.” Another of Krishna’s holy names, Govinda, means “one who brings satisfaction to the cows.” Other scriptures identify the cow as the “mother” of all civilization, its milk nurturing the population.)
During my whole stay in India I was sincerely curious why they are so many cows all over the road, literally standing there all day, and why their owners don’t take care of them. Later I realized that people are too poor to feed the animals, but because their sacred status of a holly animals to be asteemed, not eaten. So once honoured to have them the only choice of the owner is to leave them on the road where they are starving for food and before the raining season (Mansoon) when everything is greener and at least there is a grass to be eaten, the cows are all bones and skin. Which was the reason I was really shocked and mirthless at the beginning.
During this very first “meeting” with India I felt poverty but in a contrast a really wealthy spirit among the people. Why? It is really simple even in a first look. Animals are skinny, people are maybe skinnier, roads are destroyed, no luxury around but even in those miserable conditions I felt a warm first hug. A very pleasant one. This country brings you a feeling that can’t be explained in a few words, but when you are there you feel careless, you feel happy, you feel free to express your true personality. It is a fairytale, or how Indian people usually say “Here everything is possible” True! So true! My Indian fairytale, a very real one. People wear colourful clothes, always smiling, many times for no reason, they are dancing and singing on the streets, occasionally or not, accepting the life so easily. I guess that keeps them from having a higher standard of living, but no one cares. There is a saying that the less educated you are the more happy you could be. Maybe. Or maybe their secret of happiness is that they don’t accept poverty as a vice, because unlike us, people living in a more developed countries, those Indians are actually happy and satisfied with what they have. Even a very little. And that brings peace that you can feel even in the most chaotic and noisy streets. Cars everywhere. Cows everywhere. And people. Real people, people with a big smiles. And that leaves the only question..
Are you happy with what you have?