So, I, along with a few of the others that went to India, was asked to speak to the current year 12 last week to see if we could inspire some of them to take that leap & have an adventure like we did.
When I got the email, I was quite excited to see the other guys again, and also to have the opportunity to properly share my experiences with a group. That’s not to say I haven’t spend collectively hours telling people about India and the experiences I had, the things I saw and did. But this was different because I knew that if I expressed it just right, I could influence some of them into a life-changing experience of their own.
Five of the eleven guys that went turned up, including myself, and we each were asked to talk about a different aspect of the experience. The first guy talked about the straight facts of what we did and where we went. He talked about how each plane that we went on as we got closer to our destination was progressively smaller than the last. One talked about his personal process that lead to him deciding to go to India, and how big an impact it has made on his life. He actually said that he “must” go back to “give [his] life meaning”. Another guy talked about what it was like over in India, the conditions and the feel of the place. He talked about how there seems to be no such thing as traffic rules, let alone indicators. Everyone just honks their horns constantly, and “you feel like you’re gonna die” for the majority of any car trip. The other guy focused on the kids and the people that we encountered, and the attitudes they held. They were all so friendly and welcoming. They never really cared too much about what they didn’t have, but were always so happy to see and talk to you. When I talked, the point I wanted to make to the year 12s that were thinking of going was that it’s worth it, even despite the poor living conditions and the hard manual labour. And really, it’s not as bad as you imagine.
When I was originally thinking of going, I was thinking of doing it mainly because I knew some others that had done similar stuff, and they’d really gotten a lot out of it. They’d done their bit for charity, and in a way, I was just keeping up with the Joneses. Thusly, I didn’t feel the greatest drive to go, and was really quite fearful about so many elements of the trip. It was going to be the first time I’d ever left the country, and that was a pretty big deal to me. It meant I had to get a passport, which was a drawn out process. And in my mind, what it would be like in India was terrible. I imagined it was going to be scorching hot all day, every day, and freezing cold at night. I’d get sunburnt, and we’d be working like slaves doing jobs that I, not only had never done before but, had no idea how to do properly. I thought we’d have no electricity for the majority of the time, and we’d all be sleeping on the floor in one big room. They’d only be one bathroom, with a drop toilet, and a grotty outdoor shower.
But it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. Most bits were better, but some bits were kind of worse. We were in rooms of two to four people, each with it’s own bathroom with a cold-only shower that hardly worked, and a western toilet. It was pretty disgusting in there, but it was better than I imagined. It wasn’t that hot, because we went during the wet season, but it wasn’t that wet either. I didn’t get sunburnt because I had come prepared, but I did get bitten by more than a few mosquitoes. There were a lot more bugs than I had expected, but at least there weren’t any snakes or scorpions in our beds. I didn’t get sick, because I followed my doctors recommendations, but I was carrying a bottle of hand sanitizer around with me at all times. We ended up having electricity whenever we needed it, thanks to back up generators. And that stuff about me not being any good at the work, well that was true. But I gave it my best shot, and made a difference anyway. Although, I don’t think I could ever bare to use a steel scrub brush again.
But there were also things I didn’t even think to imagine. The generally run-down state of everything in India was a bit surprising. Every building was stained and a bit crumbly. If the wall was suppose to be white, it would be more of a dark, patchy cream colour, thanks to the grease and soot that seemed to cover everything out there. It’s not like it was majorly polluted, you could breathe ok, but everything seemed to be in a state of disrepair. However, alongside all that were luscious green fields and flourishing forestland. When you looked out in the morning, you could’ve thought you were on safari in Africa somewhere. It was like nothing I had ever seen with my own eyes before, but in a way it was. For what it was worth, you could have been anywhere.
In the end what it all comes down to is, given the good and bad, the ugly and beautiful, it was a totally new experience for me unlike anything I’ve ever done before and possibly will ever do again. But unless I did it, I would never have known what it was like and would never have even considered doing something like that again.
P.S. I’m yet to get any suggestions, so if you’ve got any ideas for a better sign off line than “Post again soon,” or “Until next time,” drop me a line, and there will be a prize in it for the one I choose!