-from Italy(where I study) to Udaipur, Rajasthan, India(or as it is more famous “The city of lakes”)
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?
Waiting to read further… Impatiently..
Thank you, Dr Kapil Sharda!
paris..ur work is incredible..hope every indian vil realize dere responsibilities towards the country after reading ur blog…u r an inspiration n i luv u dear 4 d commendable job ur heading with..m glad i met a fren like u..n ya me to waiting to read more….tc
Thank you so much, Dr Kirty Choudhary!
I am really happy you like it!
I am also so glad I have a friend like you!
You are amazing!!
Hi Paraskeva ,
Thanks for such kind word about my fellow countrymen………………….are we really that good like you mentioned in your article ?
Yes, poverty is one of the major concern in India and yes I have seen people in India smiling even when they don’t have food to feed but isn’t it happen everywhere in world.
Poverty is problem of whole world is facing and i think you will find poor people everywhere.Although I am very thankful to people like you who are doing such a great work which is actually our and our government duty .But sometimes I think why foreigners only talk about poverty not about our culture etc.Do they only find poverty to talk about India.
Firstly, yes you are “that good” like I mentioned in the article.
Secondly, I am sharing my personal experience while being in India. Poverty is a really big problem in the country, but as I mentioned in the article – people affront this issue in their own way and they seem to be happy. I try to talk about the culture and the beauty of the country, as well. Read on my blog!
Thank you so much for the good words!
All the best!
Very well written, I could visualize things that you wrote. Being a indian myself and now living in Europe for 2 years, i can very well relate to the facts you have put here. Sometimes its so difficult to make friends here at a personal level. Are you still in India?
Hallo, Abhishek! You are very kind! I am not in India anymore, I live and study in Italy. Peoples’ mentality is different all over the World and that is one of the things that really fascinates me! And one of the most important things I am writing about! Keep reading my blog and wish you a pleasant stay in Europe!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading you experience. Firstly thank you for coming to India and helping us Indians here. Most of the Indians here dont value the importance of social work or may be the rich/wealthy ones have just have money to spend but no time. I have stayed in India all my life and yet after reading your story felt like I have never been there. Thanks for making me aware about the natural spirits of India again.
Good luck with your future.
I must say thank you, Hardik! I am so happy that I can provoke those feelings in Indians because I really love and do respect so much your culture! All the best! P.
i like your experience about my country.i can fill the emotion and expression you describe in your visit to Rajasthan.we people in india are poor in financial condition but very rich in religious beliefs which make life easy and joyful without so many needs but first time read and feel from your reading.
True, Lalit! I love all the Indian people I had really an amazing experience while being an English teacher! I hope more people will be inspired by emotion and will decide to help by their own!
You can be a great source of inspiration for today’s youth like me and many in my country. A very few people could go this far from their roots, cultures and family to do such an extra-ordinary work for humanity and help people.
I truly appreciate the work you’re doing and if by any chance you’re in Ahmedabad and need help, you could certainly drop me a message.
I hope your words will become true and my actions will have a real influence for our generation!
paris are you teaching in bhopal…would like to meet you and see how you are doing here Ashok
I am not sure I understood your message! Please, contact me for any further questions!
paris , i would like to say india is not a poor country but indians are poor because of dirty politics going around here.
Dear dr. Tushat Kant,
I imagine every country has it’s politics that sometimes don’t face the perceptions and expectations to us as a simple ordinary people! That’s why I try to gain confidence and hope for a protection in people and more important I believe we must be united even in our diversity for a world we would love to live in! Thank you for your comment and all the best!
Great work Paris. Read your writings. Following ’em. You are one of the incredible person. Hope to meet you one day. I have stayed in India all my life and after reading your story felt like I have never been there. Thanks for making me aware about the country I’ve grown in. I can visualize the emotions that you carried in your writings. You are the inspiration for many young fellas now-a-days. Keep going. All the best.. 🙂 🙂