I think it’s safe to say, it’ll take me the full year to get all these India posts and photos up 🙂 It seems silly how long it’s taken me to go through them, but honestly, it’s been kind of nice this week– now thats I’ve been feeling slightly better and able to open up these folders and sort through all our amazing photos and experiences. I hope you guys still love these posts and moments now, months after the trip. They still make me sad happy– and make me desperately wish to go back!
We like to refer to the first few days, in Delhi as our buffer zone. A city, yes– but not overly hectic– or crowded, or overwhelming. It was a good starting place for our trip before heading into the rest of the villages, towns, and cities. But I feel like this day– this adventure, may have been the real start of the trip for all of us. I was now officially over jet-lag and I think a lot of the ladies were joining me in post-jet-lag happiness too. We all loaded onto our tourist bus (surprisingly common and amusing in India)– with our luggages in tow and headed for the smaller (amazing) village of Nawalgarh. We drove through fields of wheat and mustard greens, other towns and cities, and past beautiful, beautiful temples. But on way to Nawalgarh, we stopped, for what I think was one of the best moments of the trip. Though— truth be told, I probably think every moment of the trip was the best moment of the trip.
One of the things Above the Clouds and I had deeply discussed when planning this trip was wanting and being able to do more than what a typical guided tour or trip can offer. We really wanted to meet the people of India— to learn, grow and gain more insight from them. It was really special to pull into a village we would have otherwise never heard of to sit with the panchayat, the village council, and learn how the decisions in their community were made.
We were kindly welcomed into the village by the women, with red turmeric bindis and grains of rice on our forehead. Prompted to removed our shoes, we were led into a three walled concrete room, with sheets and blankets laid out for all of us to sit on. On one side, the women (and men) of the panchayat. On the other, us. Between all of us, an interpreter (my lovely Rubina) for us to exchange questions and answers to one another. I teared a little with the kids– I loved them so much and it made me wish to have Marlowe by my side. And I teared because I was just so grateful for the experience.
Most everywhere we went we were greeted with happy and curious stares and waves of hello. I shouldn’t really speak for everyone, but it atlas made me really happy to see that everyone else seemed just as excited and happy to meet us as we were to meet them.
The ladies had prepared a traditional (vegan) meal for us. Most everything was vegetarian or vegan for the majority of the trip to make things easier for everyone. And with the exception of the few times I bit into something and realized it was cheese, I think it worked out pretty well— and it was all DELICIOUS. Many of the girls claimed this meal to be a bit too heavy on the spicy side— but I think they were wrong 😉 Also, I keep going back to look at this picture over and over again— not because those are my heart claw friend, Hailey’s hands in the photo– but because it was just so delicious and I want it all again now.
After our meal we were offered a short walking tour of the village. Everyone went to the left. And me? Well, I got distracted by some fruit trees (no one is surprised) and headed right. I peeked over a fence to examine the trees even closer and was greeted by a kind, non english speaking women, motioning me to come in through her gate and into her yard. So of course, I did the really responsible thing— and followed a complete and total stranger into her gated yard in a foreign country across the world.
She started pointing to different plants and trees and I answered with the name of the fruit or vegetable that it would provide. She would smile and nod her head yes. This went on in her front yard for a few minutes, before she motioned me to the side of her house. I told her I had to go back to meet the group before they would worry— but she was persistent and kept motioning for me to follow. .
….I followed. She brought me to her citrus trees and tomato plants. And then motioned me to the back of her house. I told her again I would have to go– but then of course, hesitantly this time and maybe going against my better judgement, followed. I was greeted by papaya trees, lime tees, mulberry trees, and cows! I was happy. And then I of course, followed her into her her house, through the living room and out the front door. I gave her (an albeit, pretty awkward) hug and rushed off with three oranges to find the group.
I later returned to the womens house– with a few other ladies from our trip– and introduced Raha, the other vegan, to the cows. Because, Hi, they’re our friends. Hi baby cow, I miss you.
This day was magical. My heart feels fuller. The kindness in India is incomparable. I’m going to hold the memories of this day forever.
Also, I should mention, I know baby cows are called ‘calves’ but ‘baby cows’ just sounds so much cuter 😉 See all India posts: HERE. Happy wednesday, friends <3<3
1st, 8th, and last photo via Alexis Powell. Group shot via Above the Clouds.