Coming to India, the one thought I have everyday is “I’m going to die” - but not literally. The rush of motorbikes, rickshaws and cars zigzagging through traffic is a far cry from the obedient drivers in Australia. However, this experience has allowed me to really love children, overcome language barriers and develop patience and appreciation for other human beings.
1. A Yogi
Honestly, one of the biggest learnings I’ve had so far is to put down the phone and communicate with people.
Going to Delhi by myself this past weekend was probably one of the bigger challenges I’ve faced, yet most rewarding. Whilst Rohit booked my bus, and Sakshi drove me to the bus stop, I also met an incredible woman on the bus - Aseel. She’s 40, from Iran, and has changed her path in life from a consultant to a yoga teacher.
We had great conversations over the course of the 5 hour journey, where I truly opened up to her. She taught me more about spiritual lessons as well as gurus such as Saibaba. It was a little surreal that there was a photo of him at the restaurant at the pitstop as well as the rickshaw to her apartment - perhaps a sign?
Upon reaching Mumbai, I didn’t have any internet service and couldn’t make texts of calls. Aseel helped me top up my phone, took me to her house for an hour and truly looked after me. Upon the many worries I went through in my head - kidnapping, potential death and other morbid thoughts - she was so welcoming to me.
She reaffirmed to me that to love others, you need to be kind and lose your ego. To be compassionate, you must be able to give without expecting anything in return.
It really showed me people were kindhearted and welcoming and to have more faith in humans. Personally, I do believe it was a sign (maybe from Saibaba) that I was meant to meet her. These are some things I want to remember and demonstrate now that I'm back in Australia.
2. An Ola Driver
Ola is the equivalent of Uber in India. Going on the app, you never know who you'll get, but I luckily booked Swapnil three times as a my driver.
He was one of the few drivers who could converse with me in English, I was able to learn about his family, his life, and his ambitions to rebuild from a personal setback. He was very caring and kind, and whilst he had a simple life, he did receive an education and wanted to improve his English (which was already amazing).
I got his number and was able to book him for a trip to Trimbakeshwar Temple. By coincidence, one night during dinner with the other volunteers, we booked separate cabs to go home - and they got Swapnil! He also showed hospitality to the Ian (an Indonesian volunteer) and invited him over to his house for dinner.
3. The Children
Prior to coming to India, I didn’t think I was a children’s person. I felt unable to identify with them.
However, working and seeing them everyday, the childish nature within me naturally came out. Whilst Grade 1 and 2 students find it difficult to understand my explanations at times. I too find it difficult to understand them when they speak in Marathi (their local language). Whereas, Grade 4-7 were mostly obedient, but hard to quieten down. I have personal goals to ensure students are engaged, want to learn and think individually.
I saw the progress as students were able to complete more difficult work assigned to them. These little humans are definitely smarter than you think, and taught me to be more resilient, loving and understanding.