Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How Bazaar

On the terrace of the building 13 in Khan Market, the smog lifted and I was happy.

Our last night in Delhi was a jam session. Students from Manzil, an education based NGO, played Hindi songs with acoustic guitars, tambourines and a rhythmic dhol drum. My entire body responded to the frequency of the beautiful music and I sang and tapped my feet and danced with a presence that had left me since our night walk with Jamghat (what I described in my last post).

Over the past few weeks our own group of 21 (we picked up some people) had become a traveling orchestra in its own right. We visited a flute maker and now about 10 people practice the raspy bamboo flutes on our train rides and during meetings. There are also guitars, ukeleles and goosebump-worthy singing voices within the circle.

Last night wasn't about the Indians or Americans or the technique or our education -- it was about the absolute joy that came from a bunch of young people wanting to get lifted. And I got there fast.

Now I embark on the last leg of this journey. I have learned more in the past four weeks than I have in years of college and I'm hoping this week in the mountains will help me start to absorb and digest everything I've seen and done.

I know now that so much of what I thought was backwards and regressive about India is actually its saving grace. I feel like the girl who got off of the airplane on June 22 was some breed of hippie-colonist who thought if only those tribal kids would learn English and the government would transform slums into proper living areas, everything would be just fine.

But now I know that a farmer's adamant refusal to leave his land helps India's soil and fabric more than teaching calculus will. I know that those squatting toilets in the ground are the reason that people still have enough water to drink.

Last week I was wrist deep in cow dung and I have never felt more American. But it's just grass, and we are all just people.