Saturday, 9 July 2016

A love story called Gajner

India as we all know too well is the place of diversity. And my experience with EduCARE India is indeed characterized by a continuous traveling from a state to another where I am all the time challenged to adjust to the traditions. While the scenery evidently changes under our eyes while traveling by train or bus, so do the people and places. It is hard to describe the immense variety of Rajasthan, Punjab or Himachal Pradesh particularly because I have not had the chance to explore those places thoroughly. 

I am very grateful to be given this unique opportunity and to see a side of India that perhaps few people have witnessed. The desert plains of Rajasthan where the sun is uneatable and sand gets up to your panty. The green and lush plains of Punjab which a rich wildlife of buffalo and birds that enriches the landscape. Lastly, the hilly Himachal, a notable tourist destination where the curvy roads make transportation slow and the climate gap between valley and hill is tremendous. Perhaps in few weeks the chilly Kashmir with the stunning Himalayan range and the notoriously astonishing views.

However, since the very first time I felt in love with Rajasthan and with the little village where I spent the first two months of this incredible experience. The simplicity of life of Gajner and the warm heart of its people will be forever with me. I am currently back to Rajasthan for some annoying and boring bureaucratic paperwork, however, beside the much more intense heat which leads fewer people out, the village and the life here has not changed a little in the past months. The shops where I used to go grocery shopping are still there, the myriad of dogs and cows, tons of garbage littering the streets (SWASH’s nightmare) and the intern’s house. All this with only one thing that differs from before, everywhere is blue boxes, the coolers that will rescue people from the 45-50 degrees Celsius.

Typical alley in Gajner 

I visited my ex host family and their surprise when they saw me after all this time is priceless. I was invited for dinner and they pulled out the best food and drinks: loki with chapatti, mango juice and sweets. A royal treatment. Then as usual the moment of catching up and taking picture came and we all collected dear memories for the future.

Me and my hosting family during my first week in Gajner

Talking about food again (because you must know a big part of our life and work here in India revolves around food), I finally ate again to the local dabha owned by one of the best cooks on earth, Manoj. He welcomed me warmly and started asking questions and we laughed and had amazing time together while devouring kachori and samosa, which are by far the best! The coziness and familiarity of that place, which at sight does not look appealing, is the sweetest memory I have from Gajner. 

Similarly, the interns welcomed me in the best way possible. We talked for hours when I came and we had delicious dinners all together. We slept under the desert stars and combated the heat by making juices and sharing for the cooler (which by the way abandoned us by setting on fire spontaneously). Luckily we are left with fans!

My visa trip to Bikaner was unexpectedly smooth, considering the burden of this procedure and the obstacles encountered such as rude police men and slow internet connection. I got some reward by standing in the A/C of a bank while waiting to pay a fee and at the end of the long tiring day two fresh juices and a delicious late lunch/early dinner.

Many things here in Rajasthan would suggest this is not a place for a white girl, starting from the harsh climate to the insistent gazes of the men. However love means accepting the good and the bad in anything and anybody, and I must say I LOVE GAJNER.

Playing kabaddi during Induction in Gajner

Martina Fraternali - Italy
Education, Training and Development Coordinator 

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