Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Something Special

There is something about Gajner. That’s what everyone says. And when they say that I don’t think they mean the beautiful Gajner Palace or the lake. Nor the mesmerizing sunsets and the amazing desert landscape. In my case, now that I am leaving after 6 months, I came to narrow it to three things: the people, the animals and the pani puri. I will start with the last.

Pani Puri
I truly believe Gajner has the best panni puri in the world. The only panni that not only tastes amazingly good but doesn’t give you diarrhea (at least not to me). And the special one, as I like to call it, the one without the water you get in the end, tastes like India to me. Sweet, sour, spicy and interesting enough to keep me coming back for more.

The man that creates the magic!

Delhi. Delhi was our house puppy we rescued from the streets, who sadly is no longer with us. He destroyed my favorite pair of gloves and pretty much every shoes I owned. I used to call him “Terrorista”. Manoj says he had an education. Indeed, he had an education, but he was a rebel at heart. 

Delhi's bright and dark side

Mico and Vather, our two beloved pet geckoes. Recently, they have been occupied doingsome horizontal (vertical?) dancing. Actually, I noticed a little bump in Vader’s belly which leads me to believe that the gecko family might be increasing anytime soon. When you don’t have television, this is the best you get. 

Lady, the nicest and smartest dog in Gajner. In fact, the only dog that acts like a dog around here. She wails her tail when she sees you, jumps at you asking for affection, and follows you around. She recently dig a hole just outside of our house where she retires during sleep. Summer doesn’t spare anyone and even the dogs can’t handle the suffocating heat during the night. 

The Cat who comes to our house at night when everyone is asleep to steal our food. He has literally the weirdest taste when it comes to food, and he eats anything from dog food, bread, and eggs, to toilet paper, tampons and sanitary pads. Disgusting I know, but true. Our cat is also a very needy cat and tries to cuddle with people if given the chance. He has found his way into our rooms a few times, and once Orane (an amazing French intern) woke up with him on top of her in bed.

Finally, the moody cows in front of Mr. Bero Singh vegetable shop. For future interns, especially female interns, keep your eyes wide open and prepare to run (and scream!) when crossing through this (dangerous) area, because these cows might attack you for no particular reason. It has happened in the past and it may happen again.

Our community has the kindest and friendliest people I met in my life. Living in a place where people actually remember your name and care enough to reach out to say Namaste whenever they see you gives you an immense joy and a true sense of belonging.

Ankita, is one of the many kids in town who runs to you whenever they spot you on the street. For six months our interactions have been always the same. She asks me my name, I reply and then we engage in fist punch with a boom in the end.

Then, there are all the shopkeepers in the main street who, in the beginning, looked at me with curiosity but, whom with time, I became very good friends with. Not surprisingly, my Hindihas evolved from knowing only casual greetings to knowing back and forth the Hindi words for all the vegetables and fruits and many other foods. And then there is the constant invitations for chai, and all the people that ask you to come to their house for dinner, try to teach how to make chapatti for the hundredth time, and reject your weird shaped chapatti as its form would alter the taste.

Vimla, who the moment you say you have to leave her house, gets you more food so you have stay a little longer. And Sorav, her son, who is one of the smartest kids I have ever met, and who at 13 is already thinking about university and studying abroad. Sorav, who is Hindu but spends almost two hours looking for eggs with you (when many others cringe even to the sound of the word) when you decide at the last moment you want to make a cake for dinner.

Me and the kids

Manoj, who not only helps you immensely with all of your projects, but also tries to teach you Hindi, cooks the best Indian food you will ever taste, and invites you to come to his house and celebrate Holi and Diwali with his family.

And Shushuma and her family,Anjuman and Mubarak Je, Dappu, Durga, Pria, Shreea, Kumkum, the Gajner team (you guys rock!), and all of these others amazing people who I would write things about if I had the space, but I am almost on 900 words now and this is obviously getting way to long.

The funny part about leaving is you are not gone yet and you are already thinking when you are coming back. I guess there is really something special about this place. 

So instead of saying goodbye I say phir milinge Gajner, phir milinge India!!

View of Gajner from our roof

Ana Silva - Portugal 

Rural Healthcare Project Manager in Gajner

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