Saturday, April 9, 2011

Volunteer In India: Attari, Pakistan/India border

There is a nightly "show" at the border of India and Pakistan every night, at Attari. The military forces for both sides do...something...and a huge crowd gathers. When I say they do something, I can't really elaborate on what because I didn't see it. There were too many people, and we were seated on the ground (as opposed to being in a stand). But the crowd watching was great fun, and it was a cool experience.
Manpreet, our Indian gangsta!
Cat and Martina with Mr BP.
Before the event officially begins, you can wait in line to take the Indian flag and run "all the way" to Pakistan with it.
You know how people want to pose with the guards at Buckingham Palace? Well, Meredith got it in her head that she wanted a photo with an Indian soldier, and after numerous rejections, she got her chance! Actually, we all did.

This is what I could see the whole time the show was going on...the backs of heads!

Volunteer In India: Amritsar, The Golden Temple

I have to admit, the Golden Temple in Amritsar has left me shaken, but not in a good way. I came here with several other people…some Sikh, some not. Some men, some women. Some Indian, some American, some Italian.
Several people told me that it’s such a holy place, and to pay close attention to how it made me feel if I were to make it all the way here.
There’s two distinct parts to how it made me feel.
One is awe at how many people they cook for, feed, and clean up after. The logistics simply astound me. 60,000 to 80,000 people come thru there on a normal day, on their pilgrimages to the Golden Temple, and you have to admire the sheer tenacity and chain of supply and demand that this requires. And on top of that, everyone working in the Golden Temple is a volunteer. There’s hordes of people volunteering their time, cooking, cleaning, feeding.
Two is that I felt out of place…like a fraud, an intruder. I felt no magical bond, no awe, and no reverence. I felt like an idiot carrying my camera around (even though everyone else had one, too). And then there’s the claustrophobic feeling I am left with…with so many people visiting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s crowded! My instinct is to back away, find a quiet corner, and not get jostled. And it’s simply not possible.
I suppose I could go on, to write a lot about religion, spirituality, and more detailed information about my own history with them. But I think I’ll pass. It’s too much to write about, especially now.
Everyone else is going back tomorrow at 5am for another visit. I am not. I am going to stay here in my room and collect myself. Hopefully by the time they get back I will be ok.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Volunteer In India: Patiala, a visit to The Family Farm

Lots of fun today visiting Leon's family's farm. Cows, tractor rides, piles of potatoes, chai and samosas...who could ask for more? :)

Volunteer In India: Patiala, Friday's photos

Todays adventures included a visit to a sewing school, yoga class, and a visit to a special needs school. A new volunteer arrived last night from Belgium, her name is Martina.

Leon took the camera. I had been hanging off of this table shooting straight down on a couple of the girls. He was amused! :)

Meredith is really good at henna...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Volunteer In India: Patiala, Orphanage, day 2

The baby that was found on the railroad tracks the other day...
This little girl is going home tomorrow. Her mother is finally in a position to support her.

Volunteer In India: Patiala, Dancing girls

The video is better, but here's some still shots of today's dance lesson.