Living 6 magnificent months in India, as an intern in Educare, has been such a great, incredible experience. I learnt so many things, met so many amazing, awesome people and lived so many experiences that I cannot list them in one single page, but that I'm sure they will stay in my mind and heart for all my (long, so long,) life.
However, I believe the most important thing I learnt in India and in Educare is the flexibility. I always thought I was a very flexible person, able to deal with any kind of unforeseen events, to find a way to sort it out even if everything could seem a huge issue.
Because I had never been to India before January 2016.
All my ability and skills have been tested, again and again, during my whole indian adventure: every time (that probably means almost every day) I thought I was about to go too far and overcome my limits, and probably kill someone.
But what am I talking about?
-Flexibility, when you plan a meeting with someone from the community, you go to his/her house, and she/he is not there because "random excuse/things to do" or, on the opposite, you just go to check if they are okay, and they offer you the longest chai-time ever, asking you everything about your family, country, studies, and why we "Angresi" are so weird, and, last but not least, taking a picture
Dr. Pinkie, such a precious, friendly resource in Rait! (but sooo curious about our lifestyle...)
-Flexibility, when you schedule your trip all around India, and you don't have so much time, and the train is cancelled/delayed, or your bus runs so fast that you reach the destination 3 hours before the scheduled time, but it's 4 AM and all you can do is sitting outside with your friends, blankets, and see the sunrise;
-Flexibility when you are waiting for someone and after 3 hours they come as nothing is wrong, because "this is indian time", even if you have loads of things and duties to do
- Flexibility is when you go meeting your friend, the Ayurveda doctor of the village, for a project, she invites you to her house for a chai, and finally on the way to go she asks you to stay overnight and have fun together at the yoga school where she teaches;
- Flexibility is when you schedule such an important skype meeting/interview/call with your family, and a powercut comes for 10 hours;
- Flexibility is when you plan to cook for the doctors arrived for visiting the women of the community for the Free Health Camp Day, and you run out of gaz, and the place where you can buy a new one is far away and impossible to reach in time; so all you can do is going and praying a Dhaba to cook for 15 people to take away,
- Flexibility is when you plan your weekly schedule with meetings, research, staff to do...and there is a Dam, a wedding, a birthday party and we are all invited for the next 3 hours, eating the best thing you will have in your week, meeting incredible people to whom you can show your (poor) hindi;
- Flexibility is everywhere and anytime, from your breakfast time with no power and no gaz, to your evening, when you want to take a shower because outside is 40 degrees and there is no water left in the tank.
But flexibility, for me, can be summed up in one of the last moments I lived in Rait with our landlord, Uncle: it was 11 AM or so and as I was about to leave Educare, I was full of things to do, manual to complete, event reports to edit...It had been a rainy week too, meaning lots of powercuts; but suddenly Uncle arrives. He literally ordered me to take a knife and follow him in the garden, because we had a lot of "saag" (for me, simple weed and leaves with no interest).
He showed me how to cut it (hey man, it's not the first time I do it!), he showed me how his vegetables are green and big (yes, I can see them every day) and then he told me he will teach me how to cook the famous "saag".
Cooking, right now, only understanding half of the words he says and with all the things I have to do?!?
No possibility of explaining him about my schedule, so...let's go for it!
We cut onions, garlic and tomatoes (of our garden!!;), he came in the kitchen and showed me hot to cook these dark green leaves I would have never eaten (common', this is like salad!you don't need to cook it!): finally we spent nearly one hour together, without almost saying a word, or at least until I saw him putting a full spoon of chilly, and after that obliging me to try the sabzi: NAHI-JI!!!ME HACHA NAHI (or however you write it)
I tried my best hindi to let him understand I don't like such a spicy food, but, as you can imagine, my hindi skills are soooo undeveloped, that I was forced to try it...
OH MY GOD!!!SUCH A GOOD SABZI!!Probably one of the best I ever made (with some help). Uncle smiled (I promise, I probably saw him doing it only twice in 6 months) and seemed very proud of himself teaching how to cook to this white (unable) girl.
Flexibility is one of the most important teaching and gift that India and EduCARE gave me: I must add, of course, all the people I met there, from my house-mates, now part of my global family, to the little children in the After School Program or Girls Club, passing through all the shopkeepers and doctors who helped us.
They completed and supported me in such an incredible adventure!
Federica Villa - Italy
Health Project Manager and Coordinator in Rait