Well I suppose this post comes better late than never! I left India just over two weeks ago and once again I had an incredible experience.
My experience this time was similar to Thailand but not the same, similar in the craziness! The whole world of India seemed mad, the driving, the hustle and bustle, the shops, the streets, the animals on the streets, the noise! It was all so disorientating. But I suppose that’s one the parts of the culture, you’re just thrown into this world of chaos and everyone around you thinks it’s normal haha.
The traffic and roads alone were absolutely mental, the driver of the taxi I got from the airport was laughing his head off as I was holding on for dear life in his car. The Tuk tuk rides were quite terrifying until you’d gotten used to them as well. No belts, no road safety it seemed, the drivers getting so close to people and cars I feared for everyone’s safety, at some points holding on for dear life! And then there’s the drivers themselves. Most of them were ok but especially if you were on your own, they took you to shops and tried to make you go inside which I hated an refused to do. Turns out it’s a government scheme thing and they get stamped every time they get someone to go into these shops and it means they can get money from the government from what I could gather. When I actually spoke to my driver about it properly it seemed they knew how annoying it was for people and they didn’t like doing it but they kind of have to. In the end, he took me to 2 shops and gave me a free ride. I get why they do it but it’s so goddamn annoying.
Also, bit of advice: agree a price for your destination before leaving or they’ll get there and try and charge you a lot more.
Another thing that I found mad was how cheap everything was! I exchanged what was left of my Thai money when I got to the airport and they laughed at me coz the amount I got in rupees was so little, even though it was over 1,000! When shopping for stuff everything was mad cheap as well, I’m talking like 10p for a big bottle of water! If I went for a nice meal, plus drinks and sides, it would only cost the equivalent of a fiver but even that was expensive!
The shops themselves were cute, ‘authentic’ you could say with lots of unique trinkets and handmade crafts and stuff which are my absolute favourite type of shop and I spent farrrrr too much money. Although a major drawback of a lot of these shops and walking found the town in general, you were followed around and pretty much harassed. However much I enjoyed my time in India, I’d had enough by the time I’d left. I’d spent so long on edge all the time, I wanted to feel comfortable leaving the hotel or walking round by myself again.
I never really felt relaxed, you had to be on your guard all the time for people always wanted to talk to you, get you into their shop, sell you things, when all you wanted to do was be alone. It didn’t help that everyone had been warning me how much of a target and be and to be really careful and it didn’t help that I got stares everywhere I went. As well as this we were told not to talk to guys too much, even if they were just trying to give you directions or something as they might mistake polite conversation for something else so it was hard to even have a civil convo with someone. You just know how different the attitudes towards women are etc and you don’t know what their intentions are. I’m not trying to put off anyone who wants to go, I’m really not but be prepared, if you do go you’ll get a lot of attention. I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more if I could have relaxed even walking down the street
Two of biggest biggest cultural influences I saw where the art and the Ayurvedic medicine. While I was there the Cochin Biennale was running and it was incredible. It was a huge art expedition that ran over the whole city featuring artists from all over the world with pieces from all mediums that really stretched what art was. It was great and it really made you think about what the piece was saying and controversial pieces made you question convention, as I suppose art is supposed to do. Check out my instagram page for pictures of my favourite pieces. https://www.instagram.com/brybabes1/?hl=en brybabes 1 Instagram
As for Ayurveda medicine, I found it so interesting. The core belief of Ayurveda is that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. They use natural products in their treatments as it is believed that nature provides the all the remedies that we need and using these natural things on your body is better than manufactured chemicals and also is much better for the environment. It was just a really interesting window to explore and has made me begin to use all natural cosmetic and face care products and so far it’s going really well.
Now onto the actual volunteering part. I volunteered with the same company that I did with in Thailand (GVI). The work that I had to do this time was a lot harder and a lot more rewarding. The main project I was on was teaching young underprivileged children English (as best I could!) It was a super emotional roller coaster of a time, I was crying pretty much every day. These kids who have so little, are so eager to learn and and embrace life, compared to some of the kids that we have at home who care so little about their education and don’t realise how much they have. You can literally see the difference that you’re making on the faces of these children, made me sooooo emotional.
It wasn’t just the school, we also helped at a homeless residence where most of the people who were brought there were either physically or mentally disabled. The joy we saw on their faces when we came was unforgettable. One week we got the music going and the microphone working and we had a loud disco and they were all singing and dancing and it was amazing. It made me think why couldn’t we have something like this at home, something this good.
We also helped out at the girls orphanage once a week, helping with homework and playing games and all they wanted was love. That’s literally all they wanted and it was heartbreaking. We were told not to get too close, not to hug them and hold their hands because if they get attached to you and you leave then that’s gonna hurt them.
This place really made me want to make as much of a big difference in this world that I can. This organisation and experience shows how much of a difference we can make if we all join together. Because of everyone who volunteered, we have helped and made the lives better for an entire community. It wasn’t just the projects that I was working on either, there were other projects in progress as well, like construction which, at the time I was there, was helping building a toilet block for one of the schools, a facility they did not have before the volunteers got there. And the health project which worked with a special school, as they call it, a school especially for those who are mentally or physically disabled. There was also the women’s empowerment project which was incredible and I was lucky enough to briefly park take in the rally on International women’s day. This project is so important to these women. They are not treated the same in the U.K., a lot of them don’t know their rights, they need help, and they are getting it.
Lastly and maybe most importantly, I need to mention the people that I’ve met. I’ll never forget you guys, you made the experience what it was. I’m so lucky and so glad to have met you all, you are all such amazing people who’ve done such incredible things and I love you all for that. And now I have a reason to visit a lot of you abroad 😉
This place and these people has made me want to do a lot more, anything I can in fact to help people, it’s so unbelievably important.
Next it’ll be about my Aussie adventures, until then, peace out xx