Gagan-chumbi (adj.) tall enough to kiss the sky.
A Hindi word for a Hindi culture, one that’s beautiful and touches the sky in so many ways. Beauty and power are one with the sky, which goes on forever, yet holds infinite mysteries. The Indian culture displays this is so many ways, and each and every day holds a new revealing of this.
The last two days of our first week were held at SPYM facilities: one for the education of truckers on safe practices, and another providing solutions for children addicted to drugs. As we see these programs, on the surface level it is often discouraging and challenging to understand. But with clear explanation, this discouragement is often followed by hope and determination. Things that aren’t discussed in public are being brought to light, and with these programs not only do you see lives being saved, but also purpose being found.
The success of these programs runs with the people involved, not just the people in charge. They are not only provided treatment, but also given a chance to learn a trade, become educated, and be given a reason to return to the world that once pushed them away. It is a beautiful thing to see this happen, especially when they themselves at one point believed that they are beyond repair. Now many of them have not just survived their situation, but are now thriving.
It is cool to see programs of healthcare be taken in a way where the patients, rather than the doctors, are in charge. The drug rehabilitation center, for example, was run by the children themselves who vote in leaders to a ‘child parliament’ every 50 days (with guidance from the program directors, of course). It gives the sense of responsibility to the kids, and allows them to feel pride and ownership for their renewed lives, rather than living in shame. It is a difficult concept, but it is so cool to see it’s success.
Apart from the program, we are given the opportunity to travel for a weekend to see the beauty of India outside of Delhi. Never did I think that I would see such beautiful things. The things living here, the places built here, it is so so incredible that most of it cannot even be explained.
We first drove to Jaipur, where we visited the Amer Fort. We were able to ride elephants to the fort (so cool!!!) and then we were given a tour. There is such a long history in these forts and palaces that you can’t even really comprehend how old they are, and the stories that their walls hold are of many kings, queens, warriors, and more. The Amer Fort holds not only kings and queens, but beautiful gardens, incredible technology, and a huge mirror room, which when one candle is placed inside every wall is filled with the illusion of stars. And actually, the paintings on the walls are done with paint made of vegetables (what?), like carrots for orange colors and spinach for green. The paint on the ceiling is made of jewels, specifically blue sapphire and gold, which makes the ceilings shine when the light hits it. It’s amazing the things that they used!
We also visited the Pink City and the City Palace in Jaipur, which also has an extensive history, and architecture and art that pays incredible attention to detail. The Pink Ciry gets its name from the color of the buildings, and it’s true, every building is made of a coral colored material. The current king of Jaipur lives in City Palace, so much of the palace can’t be visited, but what you can see is beautiful.
For dinner in Jaipur we went to Chokhi Dhani, quite the cultural experience. It begins with a traditional Indian cuisine meal (sitting Indian style, crazy spices, never ending food), and follows with entertainment like fire dances, music performances, animal rides, magic shows, and more. It was a ton of fun to walk around to see all of the different performances going on, and the food was amazing (at least if it was bad, I couldn’t tell because the spices burned all of my taste buds off.)
At the hotel, I had the most peaceful experience since being in India. There is rooftop access here, and I ended up being there for three hours and not even realizing it. It is so calm, yet you can still hear the bustling of the city below. If you look at the rooftops around, there are hundreds of kites being flown by kids and adults alike. You could see them dotting the sky in every direction, and I could have watched them forever. It was cool to be able to look over the city and see everything passing around me, people going here and there. It was realizing sonder again, the idea that every person is living a life just as complex as your own. It was beautiful, and was also refreshing for the soul who has gone nonstop for so long.
The next day was spent at the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, two beautiful places that I never thought I would get the chance to visit. They are truly beautiful.
It has been a crazy but so worthwhile weekend. There is so much that this country holds, and really not enough time to see it all! It’s such a cool place, so much history and depth to each and every experience.