Driving down the jarring road dodging trucks, an enormous cobra, and hundreds of annoying cows, we said goodbye to the Chhattisgarhi countryside through breathfulls of dust and exhaust. It has been a remarkable time these last few weeks-- much harder to say goodbye than I expected. The orphanage was definitely the hardest for all three of us, our last week filled with evenings of teaching red rover and tag, learning the wonderful game of kabadi (i'll have to teach it back home), bonding with the kids through hugs and smiles and lots of "deedee!" and "baya, baya" (sister and brother, as we were called hundreds of times a day). These 28 kids were some of the most remarkable I have ever met. I'll never forget their smiles, warm daily reception, jumping on us and chasing us, laughing, teaching the younger ones, caring for one another, playing with monkeys, even clothes lining each other in red rover and shaking it off without a fight... I wish I could make sure each of these kids gets the attention he/she needs, especially one of my favorites Sunny, a four year old boy whose smile stretches across his face but is never without a mischievious look in his eyes as he plays some trick on a kid twice his size.
It is impossible to sum up our time in Jagdeeshpur-- our exploratory bikerides to villages and the mountain in the distance through monsoons, intense hospital experiences (I witnessed my first surgeries, all quite disturbing-- an enormous kidney stone, a hernie the size of a nerf football that the kid had for 17 years! and a C-section-- interesting to see something incredible come out of such a disturbing surgery), games with the orphans, long conversations over hot chai and fresh mango, crazy monsoons and beautiful countrysides, touching and disturbing stories...I struggled for a moment the other day trying to figure out if this fit into my original idea for the summer. I got to the conclusion that I wasn't sure but it didn't matter, for I was meant to be in this place, to experience the more quiet and structural conflicts and a poverty we must fight as humans. Not to mention one of the simultaniously best times of my life with John and Jamie, who have been incredible throughout.
Other quick stories from our trip:
-church was an experience. one guy who sang a solo was wearing a shirt that said "best wishes, from me to you" with a HUGE middle finger in the center. We held back laughter as we tried to figure out whether or not he knew what it meant. Soon after, we heard a two hour sermon, partly translated, about putting on our "love shoes" and keeping our belt of god to hold our pants up. Interesting...
-high fives and crazy faces work wonders with kids universally. thank god I can wiggle my ears as I can. it provided endless and idiotic entertainment
-I have never been so thankful for coke (or should I say THUMS UP, as it is called)and sprite. always refreshing on a hot day in rural india
-bucket showers are the way to go. we should mimic them in the us-- a great experience and a lot less water used...
-I have no interest in scorpions but one of the nurses supposedly collected them for a while, giving them names from the Matrix...
-we ate samosas with joe and sima and their kids one night in town. In the middle of our snack, a cow walked right in front of our table, did his business and joe added, "bon appetite!" to the pleasant view
-and last but not least, village life is quite funny sometimes. we met a man in the village who said he had heard from Basna (a town a ways away that we visited one saturday) that three white people had bought mangos and taken pictures in the town a few days ago. I was amused.