Day Five

Gujar Village

Photo by Shmuel ThalerToday we went to the Gujar Village. The village was extremely isolated from the rest of India, and therefore showed very little influence from the outside modern world. In fact, going to the village was perhaps the closest thing you could get to going back in time.

Once we arrived at the village, the people all showed us a warm welcome. I was impressed by their style of life. They lived a quiet, simple life free of most of the stress and chaos of our modern lives. They didn’t work long hours; they didn’t worry about a morning commute, or being late to an important business meeting. Everything seemed to move at exactly the speed it needed to; they had more free time, more time to relax, more time to be in the present moment.

They lived with virtually no electricity. The only power they needed came from several small solar panels that they used to charge their flashlights for the night-time. The houses were made out of a simple form of plaster made of mud and cow dung, and the roofs were made of tightly packed dried grass. We were invited into one of the houses by the villagers where it was much cooler than standing in the hot sun. Inside the atmosphere was warm and inviting. The whole house had a natural smell that soothed me and made me feel like a part of the Earth and ground.

Being in the village and seeing the beautiful simplicity of their day-to-day lives made me think about how ridiculous our lives can be. So much of our lives are spent trying to catch up with our technologically blooming society. I can see how it would be nice to escape the rush of my life and get back to the roots of what is really important: self-reflection. I have learned a lesson from the villagers: that it is important to simplify our lives so that we can really take a step back exist in a state of reflection, living for the present moment.

-John-Nuri Vissell

Too Little Time

Photo by Shmuel ThalerI never thought that I could get this close to so may people in such a short amount of time. Three days. These three days were all the so-called orphans needed to solidify themselves in my heart. Three days of jumping on me, running between my legs, and just being with me. And now we are gone, evaporated into the five a.m. mist just as we had appeared three days before.

So many of them asked if I would come back. Would they see me again? The best I could say was that I would come back if I could. I pride myself in thinking I am the most stable in my class when it comes to goodbyes but, I found myself chanting Jai Jai Ma under my breath from the moment I woke, until I got to the train station, frantically fighting back the ocean of tears welling up behind my eyes. One of the kids said that she wished that Prabha had not brought her classmates because it would be sad to see us go, but I think that it is worse for us because it is we who are doing the leaving.

But enough sadness, for we now take one more step towards the reason that brought us to India, the interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. With each rock of the train we move closer, closer, and further away.

-Jeremy Thweatt

Goodbye, For Now

Photo by Shmuel ThalerI have been told that when you stay at the Ashram, you are adopted by the children. Mom, Dad, I’m sorry, but you may just have to sign me over. Today is our last day at the Ashram, but I am not yet ready to leave this family.

As we prepare ourselves to leave, I notice how much the children are lamenting our departure as well.

“You leave tomorrow?” asks Parama, a small girl with large inquiring eyes. When I give a solemn nod, she pulls on my arm and exclaims, “No!”

As night approaches and with it comes the foreboding morning departure, we find ourselves soaking up the little time we have left with the kids. We play games, take pictures and bathe in the love that our relationships exude.

Parama, my Ashram companion, grabs my hand and skewers me with her eyes. “Jonji-bhai,” she starts, making sure she has my attention, “will you come back?” Pondering her question, I survey the scene around me. The girls are taking pictures with the youngest of children, Jeremy is being chased around the courtyard, Xander is teaching the kids to break-dance, and everyone else is engaged in a friendly but competitive game of basketball. My class is happy here. I am happy here. I look back down at Parama, whose unwavering stare is fixated upon me, awaiting my reply. “Of course,” I affirm. We smile together, content with this conclusion and join in on chasing Jeremy.

-Jonji Barber