Ap kaise hai? or, “How are you?” initiated many a rickshaw conversation. This was often misleading, however, as some people misinterpreted this as an indication of fluency in the language. Babbling is what I actually did while visualizing myself speaking in Hindi.
During most rides, we’d pass or stop for several cows. As holy animals in Hindu culture, cows come first. If one should walk into a café or up to a food cart, patrons gladly feed her food and water. Dan yeh vad. It means “thank you” in Hindi, something I imagine the cows say after they get their food.
When not in Delhi, I traveled with my co-workers and gained a lot of experience. The opportunity to work in various project sites has given me ample career and life experiences. Not only that, but I had so much fun working here. I enjoyed seeing the women take pride in the care of their goats. I visited and learned from several Heifer project sites. The job allowed me to travel to different areas of India, which would have been hard to do in addition to work.
June and July are the months I spent in India and happen to be the hottest of the year. Whether in the streets of Delhi or in the villages of Rajasthan, kids still managed to play their games during even the hottest time of day. Laughing and playing, children were the easiest to take pictures of. A simple muskuraee ye, or “smile”, got them grinning and giggling.
Namaste is the traditional greeting in most of India. People were open and welcoming, we greeted each other and smiled- sharing stories and asking questions. The comfortable atmosphere made taking photos of my new friends easy and enjoyable.
When back in Delhi, my continuous quest to master the art of rickshaw riding continued. Prices are determined by a delicate exchange between driver and customer. My ride to the metro (to get to work) was relaxing and entertaining. Motorcycles whizzed by with sari tales and vendors of all sorts weaved effortlessly through the traffic.
At work, I felt included and productive from day one. My favorite part of each day was lunchtime. We all stopped to share food, family style, and eat together. The way we ate lunch is completely indicative of Indian culture. Everything is shared, everything is completed with the help of a friend, a partner in crime. The need to feel included is universal, and I definitely felt like part of the team throughout my summer stay.
With the Heifer India team I visited rural villages I otherwise would have completely overlooked on the average tourist trek through the country. Each Self Help Group we met was filled with strong, innovative women. Taking the time to have meetings, save money, and grow as a group is a considerable commitment. What I found most exciting, was to discover what made each woman, and each group unique- that special x-factor that gives them the strength and energy to succeed.
Yesterday was my last day in Delhi, and sadly zero is the number of days I have left. Thank you India, I have enjoyed every second of my stay, I will definitely be back.
Phir milenge, see you later!