Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Last Day in the Heat of India

My last day in India was on Friday, and it was quite the last day. We went to 2 camps because the groups had been unable to go to one on Thursday due to rain, but we went without community mobilizers. The male Indian students were a bit shy at first about approaching the community members on their own without a middleman to introduce them, but they quickly got the hang of it.

On the way to Deepalaya and then the slums, I finally had a chance to stop on the side of the road where I had noticed a banana man earlier in the week. It was just a man selling bananas, but a week before, there had been what seemed like over 50 monkeys (no exaggeration) sitting in an arc around him. It was quite the site. My camera was in my bag because I was in the rickshaw, and I missed this perfect National Geographic worthy photo opportunity. I am still kicking myself. When I stopped on Friday, it was just not the same. There were more men, so the monkeys were around them but not in an orderly fashion as if just waiting for a chance to fight the banana man to the death… for the more than sufficient reward.

We went to B-Block and Nehru Camp. In B-block, I started wandering around by myself (feeling much more confident after 2 weeks of being in India). I found a group of young children using a long stick as a seesaw and the fork of a tree as the pivot. They were having a blast jumping up to push the other side down and bubbling with delight as gravity pulled them back down to the ground. There were also little children playing in the trash, looking for “hidden treasures” that would become cherished toys.
In Nehru Camp, we met a group of young men who looked about our age and many young children. There was one particular little boy who had light green eyes and light brown hair which was very curious to us as he was still Indian. His laugh and smile were very catching and the entire group of young men seemed to be entranced as well as they teased and tickled the little boy. We also met a young hip-hop dancer that showed off some of his suave moves. Another intriguing observation was a group of Indian children that looked more Tibetan or Phillipino than Indian. With tan but fairer skin and the facial features of a more eastern asian, we were surprised to hear that they were merely from northern India where the people looked more eastern Asian.

In the evening, after a grueling task of searching for a new, safe, nice, and fun restaurant, we went out to dinner to celebrate Jess’s 21st birthday and my last day. The meal was great, and on our way out, we ran into children begging for our water bottles. Despite having drank half the water, the children still wanted them. Not being money, I felt comfortable giving it to them, and wished I could do more. Can you imagine having to beg on the streets for clean water as a child? How would that have changed your childhood? How would that have affected your achievements, your life, your future…

The cab ride home was fine on Friday, but on Thursday when we went to the market, it was very sketchy… I almost got kidnapped! I was paying the rickshaw driver from the curb which is at the same level as the rickshaw and he held out his right hand. I thought he wanted to shake hands with a foreigner in a sign of hello, welcome, so I took his hand. He grabbed it and pulled me into his vehicle, trying to drive away in the process. I snatched my hand back and jumped out and ran to the other girls that had gotten out before me. It was quite scary because it was extremely dark but all’s well that ends well.

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