Where: Delhi, YMCA Local time: 10:30p Chicago time: 11:00a
Holy crap. My second day in India was awesome! I woke up at about 7a, and did the same thing I did the day before. Washed up, and headed to the mandir. The mandir by the YMCA is the Hanuman Mandir, and I guess Tuesday is Hanuman’s day, cause the place was PACKED. I didn’t get a changed to get any prasad (blessed food) or anything. There was a line getting into the place, and once I was in, it was just crazy. So I did my thing, watered down a bit, and then headed back to the Y.
Day 2 was our first day at the locations of the NGOs we were working with, and I am so thrilled with the one I’m involved in. Before I talk about it, damn, the drive there was CRAZY. It’s about an hour and half away from the heart of Delhi where we’re staying, and its out in the middle of NO WHERE. Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong. But on the way there, we went from urban Delhi, president’s palace’s and what not, to total villages, to farm land out on dirt roads. Even though it was from a maruti car window, rather than being on the soil, the change was awesome to see.
So the organization I’m working with is called Karm Marg, and basically it’s a commune for street children who are seeking to better themselves. The country’s problem with street children is pretty evident to anyone walking the streets. Kids are always coming up to you asking for money, and most of the time, they’re ‘working’ for a pimp or their parents just doing what they’re told to channel money back to them. So these kids live on the streets, get no education, and live in horrible situations with no opportunity to better themselves. Karm Marg is a place with open doors for any street children to come. They offer a place to stay, food to eat, and the two main people who run it Dev and Veena, teach the children craftswork, like carpentry, sewing, and papermaking so after they leave the commune, they can hopefully support themselves from the skills they’ve learned.
Dev was absolutely amazing. He was an older, modest, humble, dude, with a long white beard, and long white hair in a ponytail wearing red sweatpants and a black fleece. We basically spent the day with him, learning all about the organization, what they do, and what impact they have on the kids. We were at a new location just built within the past six months, and it was beautiful. There were roosters and dogs running around, peacocks on the farmland, and bright colored flowers everywhere. Compared to the rest of India we saw on the drive in where the air and the ground were all brown, this was like heaven. We had tea, matar paneer (cooked peas and cheese in tomato sause, water, oil, and spices), checked out the view from the roof. It was awesome, and I am sooooooo excited and the opportunity to work here. The kids are ADORABLE. Two of the other girls I was with braided some of the girl’s hair, and I, yes *I * helped a kid through his Hindi workbook, and I don’t know a lick of Hindi. I was doing alright though. I hope….
Then we came back in a cab, and the hour and a half drive again was CRAZY.
We had a group meeting with all of the students in the evening once we all got back. That was kind of a downer, because some of the groups just had really bad experiences. Like one girl was stuck in an office in the back of a building stuffing envelopes and doing data entry all day, and had no interaction with anyone. That SUCKS, cause you might as well be back in Chicago if that’s the case, right? So, two of the other groups had negative experiences, which sucked. But hopefully tomorrow they’ll get better. And that helped me realize it’s not going to be all smooth sailing for us. So we’ll see what the next few weeks bring us.
After the meeting we went over to Hanuman Market, which are the street vendors outside the Hanuman Mandir, and that was STILL crazy, there was still a line of people out the door of the Madir, and the alleys where the street vendors were was crazy. I didn’t get anything, but two of the girls got Mehndi done of the hands. I saw it the next morning and it looked AWESOME. After I got back, a bunch of the girls were going to check out a queer night that one of the bars down the road from the Y has every Tuesday. I was gonna go with them just to check it out, but I ended up not going cause I was BEAT. The next day I found out they didn’t go either cause they were so beat too. Plus two of the girls couldn’t hold their own beer cause they had mehndi all over their hands. Worthless.