'SUPER DANCE - FULL ENJOY' // INDIA
It seems your friends have already found all the answers: weddings, babies, removals... And obviously - you are not on the same page. What else to do then, if not to keep writing your own story? If life was a book, or even better – a screenplay, the chapter I’m about to share would carry a massive plot twist; just imagine a Bollywood dance in the middle of an independent 80s Polish production. No better way to describe the moment I arrived in India – country of over 1 billion heartbeats – and added my own little tune to their music.
A captivating metaphor of India’s perception in a Westerner can be found in an album and a video project 'Indiamore' by French composer Chassol. Indian performances, street sounds and human voices merged with an European touch of funk and jazz – beautiful representation of the cultural fusion we are also part of. Music in India is present everywhere; from the very beginning it guided us, foreigners blinded by the explosion of colors. Among the big city traffic, horns being blown, train beats… the tune to have been followed was the melody of the languages. The further from New Delhi and the closer one gets to our final destination, the more Hindi language mingles with some of the regional tongues: Punjabi and Pahari.
So this is where we’ll live for the next 6 months: Himachal Pradesh State, a peaceful rural mountain site surrounded by forests and agriculture fields. This is one of those places where it’s just easy to feel at home, for what all the credit goes to our host: NGO RUCHI and its fabulous staff.
On the map of Himachal Pradesh one could not overlook the areas influenced by RUCHI’s work. For many years social workers, educators and water system constructionists united under RUCHI’s flag have been contributing to local communities’ development. Not only have they been changing the landscape, but also broadening many people’s horizons.
So here we are, defining our new roles from Monday to Friday and drawing way too much attention on weekends wherever we go; a group of clumsy torches in flip flops. You’ll probably need to learn once again how to perform some basic vital activities: how to speak (or at least learn a decent pronunciation of where you want to go), how to dress in a socially acceptable way, how to eat with the hand (it’s quite likely that… you’re doing it wrong) and how to coordinate your arms and legs, you Pahari-dancer-wanna-be. Just to mention a few skills to gain.
Soon enough you’ll start to recognize bus drivers’ and shop keepers’ faces. You’ll get the difference between a sound of a peacock and a forest goat. Also, it won’t take long for the internal jokes to bond your small (?) international volunteers family. But above all this, you’ll build up a whole new database of cultural scripts and, providing you keep your heart and mind open , they can lead you to the most exciting, human aspect of the adventure.
Being used to the world of fast pace we enjoy the rhythm slowing down. Still, the rhythm is very clear, defined by new routines and tasks. They are balanced with space for our own ideas and initiatives. After first few weeks of warming up (also literally – the Sun shines here at its best), we are ready to get truly involved in our respective projects. Field visits with two fantastic social workers gave me a background against which I can now position my ideas and limitations. The closer look at the Women Empowerment & Health Education programmes made me realize one thing… I definitely want to be a part of it!
(To be continued)