Holy cow! India is an incredible and mystical place. Every corner exploding with magic, snake charmers, sadhus, 6 armed elephants and holy men. However India in all it’s splendor is also chaotic dysfunctional and extremely overwhelming at times. I am in amazement at how it functions. It is truly a miracle. Gridlock traffic, streets overflowing with cars, motorbikes, rickshaws, elephants, and the ever present sacred cow walking haphazardly thru the middle of all of it. There are Masses of people living in tent shacks along side of the road, people bathing in sewers, and a line of dirty little children begging for food. It never stops. The poverty here is astounding and the social problems even more shocking. But in the true nature of India just when you don’t think you can handle one more vision of disparity you are blessed with something beautiful.
I am living and working in the state of Rajasthan in a small desert village 30 kilometers from the Pakistan border. The scorching desert is dotted with scenes of men in hot pink turbans riding camels and woman draped in day- glow saris carrying heavy buckets of water. Life is definitely not easy here. Rajasthan is considered the most socially backwards state in all of India still participating in such horrendous practices such as bride burning,child marriage and female infanticid (the murdering of female babies) . The oppression of women here is unbelievable. Even high caste educated woman are not exempt from arranged marriages and a lifetime ruled by man. I don’t understand it. It makes me really angry but this is India, I can not change it so I do my best to not judge it. I don’t always succeed.
I am working in two different schools, in the morning I teach first grade at an all boys school and in the afternoon I am teaching at a new school for child laborers. Before this school was opened these children some as young as 6 yrs old were working as much as 14 hours a day. Although this school is only a dirt floor with a straw roof it is a place for them to come learn instead of spending all day in the fields. Education is so important here. It is really changing things. There is also a special school for the children of Snake charmers. These children and their families are considered social outcasts. They are the gypsies and performers, so of course I feel a special kinship to them. I am working to put together a fire show and a poi workshop for them. I think they will love it and oddly enough they may benefit from learning poi as much as learning English.
It has been a wonderful experience so far, the children are so happy to be learning and are very excited about us being here. India is a powerful teacher. You have to surrender everything you thought you knew here. Sometimes I feel like I am on another planet because everything is so backwards. My mind has officially been blown. So you will understand if you see me roaming the streets of uptown looking for my camel. I love you all and bring to these children all the love and magic you have all given me. Be the change!