India 14. “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore” – Christopher Columbus


“It has always seemed strange to me,” said Doc. “The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
“Who wants to be good if he has to be hungry too?” said Richard Frost.”
This is a quote that I really like from John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday.
The reason why I mentioned it now, you will understand after reading the story from this Monday! 


One day the leader of the organization I was teaching for and I visited a village named Shilgram. The other 3 volunteers didn’t come with us because they have already been there. It was a very interesting place because it is an Art village sponsored by the community where people of all spheres of art have the possibility to sell their skills and products. I saw many dancers, painters, musicians, and so on, who were showing their art and crafts. I rode a camel for the first time and it was a nice experience, although I felt sorry for these animals because they were not living in their natural conditions. 



After that, we went to even more fascinating place, which is also my favorite in Udaipur – called Sunset point! There is a lift that brings you to a beautiful church from where you can see a big part of Udaipur.





While being there something unpleasant happened to me – the leader of the organization told me that I was so nice and kind every time when I worked with the kids, and so polite and gentle with him and his family, and the fact that I am also an attractive girl led to the fact that he fell in love with me. At first, I was in shock because he seemed, until this moment, a very responsible and kind person who would never cross his professional limitations in respect for his family and organization. I tried not to be rude and told him that we could go for a tea and simply talk about this. So we went in a place downtown in Udaipur. But even after I explained to him that his confessions didn’t seem normal and respectful to me, I think he wouldn’t understand and got close to me probably with the intention to kiss me. This action surely crossed my patient, good feeling, and so I stood up, went to pay the bill, and left the local café.
He followed me asking for forgiveness about his words but to be honest, as I told you, every person has its limits and I really believed that he was so nice to me not because he had a crush on me, but because he felt that I was his friend. And as a leader of an organization for volunteers I thought he appreciated my work as an English teacher. I felt even a little bit repulsed from his behavior, because I was far away from my home, from my family, and friends, and the main reason I was afraid of being in India was the possibility to catch malaria or any other disease, not that the leader – who was the person I spent my entire first month with there and the only one I trusted will cross his professionalism and tell me such thing. I was at the age of 19 and I felt that even if I do this with all of my good intentions, I am still naïve. Until this moment, I always believed that the people I meet in my life are just like me and never had second thoughts.
I was on the road, and it was dark outside, and all of the cars were speedily passing by and I felt very unprotected and even in fear. Anyway I refused to get back to the guesthouse with the leader’s car and would better catch a tuk-tuk vehicle, because I didn’t trust him at this very moment. He was following me but when I refused a couple of times he drove away.
Do you know what? At this moment, I realized that I didn’t know where I am. Funny, right? For the past month spent in India, I was every time either with the other volunteers or with the leader of the organization, and not even a single time I had to go back home by myself. So I didn’t know the city. And usually when you have all the protection and the commodity sometimes you start being a little bit ignorant. But the thing I honestly can tell you from my experience is that only by real participation in life, can you receive knowledge, not while someone is protecting you and telling you everything all the time.
Nowadays, my friends and family are aware of what happened to me that night and how naive were my beliefs before. I have discussed with them many times if it is better to write my real experience of volunteering in India and share it in the blog with you, my readers, or if it is better not to tell you about the whole unpleasant situation and the psychological pressure I had during this period. If you are a parent and your 19 years old girl wants to volunteer abroad, in a country far away, and with other beliefs, religion and culture, maybe after this article you will never let her go. But you will make a huge mistake. I will tell you why. I decided to write about my disappointment, because many people are afraid by many things in life and always try to act logical, secure and rational. But what I do believe is that the fear and the overprotection serve no one anything. Many bad things happen every day willingly or not. And in our will of protect the people close to us, those who we love, sometimes we make them as we say in Bulgaria “Bearish service”. In other words in English it would be “to kill someone with kindness”. Because when you want to protect your love ones every time, you actually denude them from having their own experience and choices. And what I surely know is that sometimes a kid must touch the hot oven and receive a scar of knowledge in the sake of understanding that if not being careful it will receive a pain. Because just as “a picture paints a thousand words”, an action prevents the need of thousand of words!
What happened later that night and how this “bad” experience came to be something really useful and even positive for me, you will find in the blog next Monday!
To be continued..



4 responses to “India 14. “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore” – Christopher Columbus

  1. You are truly an inspiration! Your words touch my heart. I am leaving the US soon and headed to an island in Central America. I plan to learn meditation and continue with my philosophical/spiritual reading to become “grounded” without the distractions of a “go fast” modern civilization. While I’m there , I hope to do some volunteer work. I appreciate the insight you give in this regard. You are truly amazing!!! Thank you for your blog.


  2. It’s good you share the good and the bad. We learn from every experience. And what is more important is that others can learn from you sharing your experience and avoid the same problem.


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