Before I dive into my experiences on the ground and learnings from that, I’d like to introduce myself and what brought me here to India Fellow. Imagine this – You graduate amidst a pandemic, losing out a year and a half of college, attending online classes and assignments. You neither experience your graduation hat swirling over your head, nor do you get to meet any of your friends to say your final goodbyes (at least) before taking up a course, job and/or moving out of the city for an opportunity. You sit at home, with nowhere to go and nothing really left to do. You’re lying down on your bed and you think, ‘Covid took so much away from me.’
I then asked myself a question, ‘What exactly do you want?’. My immediate answer was, ‘Go back in time and kill the virus at its source.’ Well, I needed to be a little more reasonable here. Great start, anyway. But wait, I did answer my question. In a way, I wanted to fight the destruction Covid brought. But how am I to do this? I could start by rectifying a few mishaps? Or I could bring smiles to a few faces because so many were stolen due to the pandemic. Maybe that could balance it out, who knows!
I wanted to see life for what it is and I wanted to live each day knowing that if there was no tomorrow, I have done enough to sleep well today. This feeling of wanting to do something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It felt more of an unsaid responsibility as a human being. Like a sense of liberation, when I finally have my life in my own hands and I am thinking in a vague, but right direction. I continued to ponder.
I knew that whatever I choose to do next, must be a personal challenge that falls in alignment with my principles. India Fellow had an extremely dramatic entry in my life. If you’ve watched Friends, quite similar to when Ross asked for a bride, and Rachel walked right into the Cafe. It was a perfect match.
Personal Challenge – check.
Principles of empathy, authenticity and constant learning – check.
An opportunity to bring smiles on numerous faces – check.
Making the choice of walking away from home that brought me up, to a foreign land, only made me more hopeful. Being placed with Basic Healthcare Services (BHS) in Udaipur Rajasthan, to engage with a team dedicated to saving and improving lives, is a whole gift basket of blessings. The honour in choosing this lies in the fact that it is the bare minimum that I could do, for us all and more than anyone, for myself.
Living by yourself in a new setup for the first time is a great teacher second only to the act of service to others. I have chosen to learn through the hardships that life has to offer, not only in my comfort zone, but those that are distant from the privileged environment that I have been living in, for a long time.
With all this as a backdrop, I left my home in Mumbai on 20th September, met my endearing fellowship team for our Induction Training and later joined BHS on 12th October. I now live and work at Gogunda, a town in Udaipur. I have been under constant guidance from the fellowship and my organization. I have visited remote hamlets to understand the lifestyle and challenges, and have slowly amalgamated with the way of life, getting to know the shoes they’d like me to step in.
As I look back to 2021, the year was one of the toughest but also one of the most rewarding years in my life. I got a deeper sense of who I am, what I want and how I would possibly love to spend my time on this earth.
Personal Learnings that I will carry in the years to come
- Be kind to yourself even when no one else is doing the same, ESPECIALLY when no one else is doing the same.
- It is okay to not know a lot of things. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to pause and it is okay to be slow.
- Breathe consciously, separate your past from your present.
- Smile more often, to strangers as well as yourself in the mirror.
- Be honest with yourself.
- Embrace the difficult parts of you, forgive yourself everyday.
- Be stupid and laugh at silly, boring, lame jokes every once in a while.
These would be unique for all of us. I am different, so is everyone and the one abiding truth that binds us all is LOVE. More writing and reflections, in depth are coming up, about my work and experiences in rural Rajasthan.