Part Five: Constantly departing while arriving
If I look back on my fellowship journey so far I observe a pattern in it. All of it has been about constantly arriving while departing. You meet some new people, adjust accordingly, make hearty connections, fall in love with them, get used to their company, receive lots of love and acceptance and then you leave just to do it all over again. And it’s not only about people but also about places. You go to a new place, get used to it, adjust accordingly and then again you leave. My fellowship had certain amount of work related to travelling and staying in different locations. For a person like me who craves to make deep connections, not sure whether I am successful in it or not, it’s very difficult to stay with unknowns and I feel very uncomfortable when I have to leave and stay with new people. I realize my vulnerable side is to live with unknowns and I get desperate to open them up and make a strong connection to feel comfortable.
The phenomenon started in Udaipur, with co-fellows. We stayed together for fifteen days and build some close connections. Just as I started enjoying their company we had to depart to our field locations and I still remember the last day of induction training and what I felt inside. It was tough. Also the Krishi Vigyan Kendra had its own charm. I think each one of us fell in love with that place. It had its own role in bringing us close together.
Then I reached Noida, where other than my four co-fellows I knew no one and had to adjust with people in my workplace and in guest house where we were supposed to stay. Even with co-fellows the bonding was still not that deep as I need it to be because it was just the beginning. Lots of adjustments were supposed to be made and lots of misunderstandings were awaited to prepare a right glue to form a stronger bond. Gradually ice breaking happened, people started opening up. I started eating together with people in guest house and suddenly we were like a family. In my workplace I started reaching out to people and get to know them and helping them in some way or the other. I started feeling more comfortable and life was easy. But suddenly I was asked to go and shift to Betul district in Madhya Pradesh. I didn’t want to go. The thought of going into a new community and adjust again was very scary in itself. And moreover I was used to my new family and change is never easy and sometimes not desired as well.
But for the sake of learning I had to go and started the entire process again. I started living with the community and initially everyday was like a year of discomfort for me. Especially with farming community, ice breaking was very tough. Sometimes I felt like nobody here cares about me and I was not wanted there. But I had no other option but to stay there and wait for something to happen. Slowly I made good terms with my field staff. I started helping them in their work and taking responsibilities. This time I had to open up with them because they were shyer than me. Gradually holding meetings together with the community, listening to their love stories and eating together helped a lot. Not before we organized a training of trainers with very limited financial resources we realized we are connected strongly. With the community I think it was my intention along with dedication that helped me in gaining acceptance and love from the community. But again I had to leave from that location to come back to Noida for mid-point training and further work with the organization. When I was leaving the questions like when are you coming back troubled me a lot. I was not sure whether I’ll return or not. And unfortunately I was never able to go back.
Post mid-point training new challenge was waiting for me. I was supposed to go to villages of Mathura and stay there with a new community again and build trust towards me in them. This time it was more difficult as I was going there as a volunteer and was not supposed to tell that I belong to an organization very explicitly. Why a community will like to allow an outsider to stay with them when I was of no use to them. Initially I felt like I am a burden to the hosting family and community and this thought was very discomforting along with the feeling of staying with unknowns. But again everything worked out and I got acceptance and care from the family. As soon as I started like I was one of them I had to take a break for travel workshop. They didn’t want me to go and doubted I will return or not.
But after all this experience I learnt couple of things. Firstly that life is a continuous journey and you are lucky if you get company for rest of it. Secondly the sooner you make new friends, the sooner you’ll have old ones. It has been an amazing journey so far but I think I don’t want to depart after arriving.