Sunday, July 5, 2009

Athithi Devo Bhava

At night the heat is a little less and you don't feel the mosquitos because you are so tired. I sleep on a cot in the small garden of a village family. I hear them breathe deeply around me, I hear the dogs that don't stop barking and the buffalos next door. I wonder how they sleep through the noise, but after a day of planting trees in the beating 110 degrees, I don't have the energy to wonder.

In the past ten days I've bathed outdoors with buckets, slept on the floor in the center of a slum, and been welcomed into families that sacrifice their daily water so that I can bathe. The guest is god, the Hindu scriptures say, and I am treated as such until I plead to do some work and to use my hands. I scrubbed the floors of a grocer who makes just enough to give his daughter a toy on her birthday. I bathed children who have no running water and can only shiver from the lukewarm bath because they are not accustomed.

I'm pushed every day, from 5 a.m. until midnight. I feel dirty, sweaty all the time. I handwash my clothes and they never feel or stay clean. I haven't felt AC or toilet paper since I was at home. The food disagrees with me and fights and usually I sleep with hunger and cramping. I eat food that is chopped on the floor and cooked in pots that are washed with mud and sand from the ground.

But then I wake and do some yoga on any patch of grass I can find. I spend the day with people whose entire lives are dedicated to walking through these slums, teaching children to face the world with knowledge. These men and women are fearless -- they visit houses infested with tuberculosis and check on everyones medications and hug the old grandmothers and play with the children. I can only wonder of their strength.

I feel conscious in a way that I am still figuring out. I laugh all day and cry once in a while and feel kindred with the seventeen other sisters and brothers that I sleep, travel and eat with. And it has only been ten days.


MadV said...

Sounds like you're having exactly the kind of trip you wanted! Half of me is jealous that you're having such a meaningful experience, and the other half is happy I have some form of heated water and no diarrhea lol. Just wanted to let you know I'm reading your updates and miss you and can't wait for you to get back! Hope the rest of your trip is filled with inspirational events :) <3 <3 <3

Manisha said...

Wow bingy, I read your blog and I started to cry, why I have no idea but I got totally overwhelmed that my little small cousin is doing so much good for the world out there, families, children, and who knows who else you will affect? I have never been prouder to be related to someone as unselfish and dedicated as you are...YOU have inspired me and continue to do so each and every day. I love you lots and I just know this experience is gonna change or spark something new in you that will last you the rest of your life. Sending you lots of love and wishing you don't waste away from pooping! xoxoxox

Anonymous said...

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ וֵא-לֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶתּוֹלִיכֵנוּ לְשָלוֹם וְתַצְעִידֵנוּ לְשָלוֹם. וְתִסְמְכֵנוּ לְשָלוֹם. וְתַדְרִיכֵנוּ לְשָלוֹם. וְתַגִיעֵנוּ לִמְחוֹז חֶפְצֵנוּ לְחַיִּים וּלְשִמְחָה וּלְשָלוֹם וְתַצִּילֵנוּ מִכַּף כָּל אוֹיֵב וְאוֹרֵב וְלִסְטִים וְחַיּוֹת רָעוֹת בַדֶּרֶךְ וּמִכָּל מִינֵי פּוּרְעָנִיּוֹת הַמִתְרַגְּשוֹת לָבוֹא לָעוֹלָם וְתִשְלַח בְּרָכָה בְּכל מַעֲשֵה יָדֵינוּ, וְתִתְּנֵנוּ לְחֵן וּלְחֶסֶד וּלְרַחֲמִים בְעֵינֶיךָ וּבְעֵינֵי כָל רוֹאֵינוּ וְתִשְמַע קוֹל תַּחֲנוּנֵינוּ. כִּי אֵ-ל שוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה וְתַחֲנוּן אתה: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה', שוֹמֵעַ תְּפִלָּה.

Yashar Koach Ankita
... well traveled

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