We set off from London in our double decker plane two months ago, each equipped with two backpacks and a pair of trainers. I’m lucky enough to be travelling with two amazing girls from Jersey. We drive each other crazy but keep each other sane, it’s an intricate balance. We’ve done so much that I don’t even really know where to start….
I worked at an orphanage with ten disabled kids and ten babies and loved every minute of it, despite it being the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. At the end of every day’s work we had a Chai tea party with the nuns who ran the orphanage (St Theresa’s). Every day they’d bring us whatever they could find; biscuits, old birthday cake and weird sweets we’d never seen before. They couldn’t thank us enough. The kids would wave us goodbye in the evening, and the next morning they’d be sat up waiting for us to arrive. You make tight connections with little ones who have nothing and no-one, and you feel like you are breaking the relationship you made when it’s time to leave. But even if we made those kids’ lives better for just a short space of time, it was worth it. Even if we made them smile for a day, it’s still worth it. I don’t want to write too much about the things I saw in the orphanage here (I want this article to be sunny) but if you fancy knowing more just click onto my blog.
India is a country of firsts for me. I rode in my first auto rickshaw, took my first taxi bike, ate my first curry from a banana leaf, jumped my first waterfall, saw my first street ox and killed a record number of mosquitoes! In the first month when we were working at the orphanage we took three buses to get to the site, each one cost us around 10p. The local transport here is total organized chaos. There are no signs for buses, no designated stands, what you do is walk around and shout the name of where you are going, and then listen for anyone shouting the same name (very similar to ‘Snap’ actually). The guys are like rappers, shouting names of places at the tops of their voices until it sounds like a song: ‘MAPUSA, PANJI, PANJI, PANJI, MAPPPPPPUUUSAAAA’ and when you reply ‘MAPUSA’ they turn and copy you, pointing to whatever bus you should be getting on. It’s pure brilliance! Imagine this shouting, combined with the incessant beeping, thousands of constantly moving people, a rainbow of saris, the chatter of tens of different languages at the same time, the jingle of Bollywood music spilling out of bus windows, and maybe you can picture something close to India.
The women move like ants, scurrying single file and carrying ten times their body weight on their heads for miles without tiring, whilst their men walk lazily by their sides, hands empty. Apparently they know that women are stronger/better/brighter than men, so just leave them to it. Cars on the motorways just stop and start, turn and zig-zag, as they please without a care for their neighbours. They don’t use mirrors, or look out of windows. They just beep. Beep relentlessly as if something is terribly wrong. I was told by an Indian driver, ‘You have to be able to converse with your horn to drive in India’. Even after being here for a month I’ve started to understand what he was talking about.
Yesterday in a taxi I was asking the driver what Sri Lanka is like and I was told ‘The people in Sri Lanka have very dark skins. It because they eat hot chilli. I eat medium chilli, so I have medium brown skin. You white skin because you eat no chilli. This is why skin is different.’
It is amazing the different things that people out here believe, like their perception of Europeans. Basically they think that we are literally like white people in films. For many Indian people they have never actually seen a white person apart from on these films, so say if an Indian watched ‘Cruel Intentions’, that’s the stereotype they would believe. That’s how they think we are in real life. It is so weird!
Skin whitening programmes plague all the adverts on Indian TV just like fake tan does at home. They walk around with umbrellas and gloves on in boiling weather to protect any part of exposed skin from tanning. At home ‘sun kissed’ skin is fashionable, here ‘pure white’ skin is what they want. I guess the grass is always greener.
We’re leaving India today, so if you’re interested to find out what we are doing or whereabouts we are, then take a peek at my blog, or the next Gallery issue when I will be reporting back from somewhere new!
Want to know more aboutJessy’s trip?
Log onto stressyjessyescapes.blogspot.com for all the updates as they happen and dont forget to check out next month’s travel section for more.