They say that anything is possible in India, and most of the people that spend some time here would agree with that. Some days you will ride on top of a bus to your destination or you just go out to buy some milk and before you know you are in someone’s house with a big family eating dinner together. You can definitely say that life in India is not boring, anything could happen here at any time. But life is not always easy, there is a lot poverty, heat, immense crowds and a lot of pollution. With pollution I am not just talking about the dirt in the street, but as well the air or dust your breath and the noise pollution, which can drive you crazy when you just need some peace of mind. For most people it will be surprising that my country is denser populated than India, well it is for me too! Here there are people, people really everywhere, the trains, buses and even Harike! , it does not know what quite means. One day I was just sitting down at one of the fields at the back of our house looking for some peace and I saw a man walking to me from hundreds of meter away, he came gave me a nod with his head, squats and kept staring at me. At these moments you just have to let go, and enjoy your peace… together.
|Some serious amount of people during the Holi festival|
A thing what you learn here, well you have to learn, is to lower some of your senses or use them in a different way, as soon as you arrive in Dehli, you will be stunned by what is going on, the smells, the noises, the colours and all the things that are happening around you. I am also speaking about all the holiness and beliefs they exist here, you can find a God on every street corner and rituals happen daily. At first it is hard to adapt, it took me two weeks to finally say: I feel relaxed in India. But when you do and you learned to have some patience, you can notice some order into this chaos.
A thing you can really notice in India is the dramatic change undergoing, it is developing fast. People with create and innovative ideas put a lot of things into action, sometimes for the greater good sometimes for the own good. People build everywhere, a lot of people are well connected to the whole world with their smartphones. On top of that, this country is filled with young people and children, who will soon make India a different place. But a thing you cannot escape from is the poverty, the slums, the homeless and the beggars, which some of them are not even 3 years old, this can be a difficult thing to deal with. Soon you realise how lucky you are, with food, shelter and the clothes that you wear.
|Educational workshops to the new generations in Harike's schools|
I remember the moment I wanted to do something about the inequality in this world, I just came back from Nepal, had travelled through the mountains and stayed with the locals, who lived the simplest lives.They were the most warm-hearted people you can find, from there I landed in Dubai, a city build in the dessert, wasting all its energy on the biggest indoor ski-slope in the world and everything is golden and about spending money, it was a shock. I decided that day, I have to do something about this, and I am glad for this moment, otherwise I would not have chosen this path in life and have lived this experience in India.
Despite the almost daily power cuts, the dirt, the noise and the heat, you can find the most generous, kind and warm people here, and people who have almost nothing to give, they are willing to share their last piece of bread with you. You can make friends here without being able to understand each other, the Temple’s welcome you to eat and sleep for free. The easy and simple life that some people have and are so satisfied with. There is just a lot of wisdom were I think that ‘the west’ can definitely learn from.
Living in India has been some experience, also the house in Harike where we lived so closely together, I had no idea if I could do that before I left my home. This was completely new to me, but it was a wonderful experience, I came across awesome people, made new friendship and had awesome food and the best discussions about life. I am very thankful for the great people I lived my experience with.
So yes, this place, is an incredible and magical country, I think people share with me that you just sometimes hate this place and the next moment it is the best country that ever existed. Life here is something you will only experience here, in this beautiful and crazy country. Sometimes you will be so caught up in the moments you live here that you will start wondering and asking yourself how is life back home? But then again, when you will get home will you be able to put this experience into words?
I often wonder about this, but I think this is an experience you just have to live, and if you do, you would have grown a lot.
Joris Slotboom - The Netherlands
SWASH Project Manager and Centre Coordinator in Harike