Teaching in Tirmasahun: My First Weeks

My name is Boglarka Mezei, 25 years old, from Hungary. I arrived in India on the 5th of April, and I will stay until the middle of September. My job here is to teach the children at the community centre, from Monday till Friday and at the government school twice per week. We also have a new project with the ladies from the village. We teach them basic literacy, as well as general topics aimed to make their life easier. The final goal is to help them to empower themselves.

I wasn’t really prepared for India. I don’t think I ever could be. I was told to surrender all my personal space, get used to stares, and be more careful than ever. I was told that no matter how well you plan your time in India, it never goes according to plan (after two weeks I can say, that is true as hell).

So, all I did was breath in and let myself feel that new, interesting vibe of India. I’m a well traveled person, who`s seen a lot, and has been to many places. I thought nothing could surprise me! However, I’m not sure if anything could have prepared me for the emotional blow I’ve gone through on my first few days in India.

I arrived at the community centre with three others, who are working on a project to create cleaner, healthier and safer cooking stoves for the people in the village. After we arrived, Tara showed us around, and we were introduced to the staff, who I have to say, are the loveliest. Next that I met the children, and started my classes. Well the children, they are the sweetest. I’m looking forward to spending half a year with them. I’m getting closer to them every day. We are learning, and having fun at the same time. I’m not doing regular teaching, it`s more about playing games which help them to develop their personalities, to express their opinions, to trust each other, and of course to have fun while learning.

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But let´s talk about the hospitality in India, and the fact that you cannot plan your time here. Because I think these two fit together.

On one of the first days, we visited the families of the children from my class. Its just impossible to go, say what you want, and leave. They will offer you a chair, a cold drink or water, and some super delicious Indian sweets. And lets be honest, it is really hard to say no. Especially when those offering have literally nothing and they are still offering something. This is just the way they are.

And its always like this. If I am going shopping, I get to the shop, take a seat, chat a bit, get some cold drinks, eat something, and after that I can buy what I want. If I just walk around in the hamlet, or at the market, they keep coming. The locals want to take photos and always asking for selfies. If I stop by for two minutes, I have to be prepared for at least 10 curious pairs of eyes.

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Well, the second part of my story happens because I’m a westerner, but the hospitality is for everybody.

And this is why you cannot plan your time in India. I am never able to predict when I will be done, or I will be there at, etc. These are things that I have to get used to, just like the weather, the 24/7 sweating, the food, and the clothes that I have to wear because, as a woman, I have to cover myself.

I believe that the only thing I have to do is to step out of my comfort zone. Because after that my adventure in India will finally start, and that is the only way to enjoy my stay here, and to be a part of the community.

All the best from Tirmasahun,

Boglarka

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Federica Surrenders to India’s Craziness

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India: lesson N. 1

It’s 3.30 am when I landed in Delhi, and India has overwhelmed me with a foolishness that there’s no way to tame.

It’s hell hot, the traffic is insane, the constant honking is giving me a headache, Dehi’s air is brownish and too many people, on the sides of the street, live in a way that can only be described as heartbreaking.

The only thing I can do is to swallow the sense of confusion I feel and try to adjust to a society that doesn’t belong to me in many ways, but somehow I can see its potential.

India is teaching me the hard way that if I want to find out its charm, I have to surrender to its craziness.

So I did it… and once I surrendered to India and allowed myself to go with the flow, I discovered a life which is poorer than the one I am used to, but much richer in love, generosity and humbleness.

And yes, my clothes, my hair and my entire self are soaked with sweat, I look horrible and I know I am going to stink by the end of the day.

And yes, rats and spiders feel free to run around my feet… it’s gross, but the only way I can fight them is to jump away.

But I have finally arrived to the Community Centre, I met the Indian dream team and the noise of our laugh while the three of us ride the same motorbike during the water round overcomes the one of the car horns around us.

Day by day I get to know all the pairs of curious eyes that appear here and there greeting me in the streets of Tirmasahun with cute big smiles.

I sit in people’s house, drink chai tea and have random conversations with the most uneducated people who with their mix of gesture, smiles and strange dialect, talk to me about life and philosophy. They don’t call it philosophy, because they don’t know what it is, and maybe just because of that they go straight to the point and astonish me with their simple humanity.

Federica for United for Hope