Masakali (n.)

Masakali (n.) aspiring to fly high through peace and liberation. 

Not only is this a Hindi word, but it also really gives a sense into what I have seen about the people of this country. 

The second day of the internship we visited Nai Disha, a sanctuary in Alwar that has led the area to become the first in India without scavengers, or untouchable women whose occupation is to clean the human feces. The women here are not only liberated from the jobs they were once working, but they are now considered of a higher caste and earn plenty of money to support themselves, their families, and the sanctuary itself. They learn to make clothing, bags, foods, and do different beauty techniques, and are completely accepted into the community now. Meeting them was amazing, but letting them dress me in traditional Indian clothing and doing my henna made it all the better. 

After the visit we went to an old King’s palace, which was absolutely beautiful. The architecture in this country is so intricate and always leaves me in awe. We also visited a mountaintop fort once occupied by the Mongols. The view from here was the best part, you could see so far! 

The next day we woke up and visited Sulabh again, this time to speak with the sanitation club here. And let me tell you, they have done it right. Whatever it is, they did it. These young students travel the country (and even other countries) to teach about proper sanitation, and it is so cool to see them in action. Sulabh considers children the ‘agents and ambassadors of change,’ which really hit me. It is so true; not only are they the ones going to school and going back to villages afterward to share what they learned, but they are also the next generation, one that if taught right can bring significant change. 

We then visited the slums. The slums are an area of India that houses homeless people through government land and minimal government supported resources. This seems nice in words, but they are given barely any land per person (about the size of a car), very little water, and must take very menial jobs to get any sort of money. It was one of the most crowded and dirty places I have ever seen, and it broke my heart. It is unacceptable to see people in this sort of living condition. 

The Lotus Temple was our last site of the day, which was cool because they actually let us go inside. It is a place of prayer meant for any and all religions, which is to encourage unity among the people that enter. The philosophy is really incredible — and quite frankly is how it should be in all places.

Today is Thursday, and the rotation for the day was a truckyard in Delhi. There is an NGO here called SPYM that teaches truck drivers about HIV and AIDS and also teaches them preventative measures. This population has a high risk because of their practices, but educating them has helped drop rates of STD’s significantly. 

It has been about 6 days in India, and already I feel like I belong just a little bit more. Sure, I don’t fit in at all with my blonde hair, but the people here are easily some of the most welcoming people I have ever met. It is quite a unique place, but it is so cool to be able to meet people and try to understand what drives this place. I have learned way more than I ever thought, about India and about myself and my future, and I still have many days left here to find out more. 

A couple of thought snippets:

  1. Sometimes when we are driving, I actually feel like we are trying to die. It is terrifying but everyone here thinks it is so normal… I can’t imagine the level of my blood pressure if I was the one driving.
  2. The most popular animals you see on the roads are dogs, cows, and monkeys. Quite the strange combination.
  3. Chai tea is staple. Every meal comes with it, as does every social gathering. I’m pretty sure I’ve had 5 cups of chai tea a day since I’ve been here.
  4. But also, yes, there is a Starbucks, and yes, it is just as delicious. {and also the mall is the nicest I have ever seen, even compared to any American mall I have visited.}

I love this place already, and I can’t wait to love it even more!


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