Back where I belong
on Indian Bells (India), 05/Jan/2011 09:38, 34 days ago
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This is my final blog post, it's long overdue but as they say, better late that never. I'm back in England now living a life considerably different to one I was living just a month ago in Laporiya. For a start it's pretty cold here, with temperatures hitting a maximum of 1 degree over Christmas. I've been appreciating the small things- enjoying baths, carpeted floors, cheese, wine, being able to have conversations with my family around the house and understanding much more of what's going on that I ever did in India. But I've also noticed the similarities - I live in the countryside, I can see cows from my kitchen window, I have a dog, we use open fires to keep warm, I live with my parents (biological this time) and right now I have a lot of time to myself. Another amusing similarity is that without a car I'm very dependant on my parents for transport, although it doesn't seem so bad having experienced isolation much more extremely in Laporiya. I'd say in many ways I feel more content, appreciating what I've got.Saying a final goodbye to my Indian family was emotional, with a small crowd of GVNML staff and family members waving me off from the fort, having plastered my forehead with red tilaks for a safe journey. Once my aunty starting crying I couldn't help shedding a few tears. All they kept asking were "When are you coming back?". Laporiya is part of my future now, and I expect I'll return in a couple of years when my sister Suman gets married.So now all my attention is focussed on finding employment, but I'm hoping I won't have to settle for just any job. My sights are set on a marketing role within an International Development charity where I can continue to build on my experience, and for the moment it's the bright lights of London for me so that I can take advantage of the best opportunities.Before I go there's something I must mention, the highlight of the entire 9 months I spent in India. My Mum, Dad and sister came to visit me in November and as well as taking them on a little tour of Rajasthan, we all attended my Indian sister Ratan's wedding in Laporiya. The coming together of two families allowed me to piece the whole experience together, to let my real family see where and how I had been living, and to meet the family who had taken me in. Seeing Mama welcome Mum with a big hug and puja ceremony was a joyful moment. I'd kitted Mum and Gabi, my sister, out in traditional Rajasthani party wear and Dad wore a kurta and pyjama combo made my a village tailor, along with an 8ft long turban tied by my Indian cousins.The first day of the wedding saw around 3,000 villagers come to our house to be fed and enjoy music and dancing, which we were encouraged to join in with. And if you've ever wondered how to cook for 3,000 people take a look at a the huge pan of dahl in the photo. The party begun late on the following day and at around 10pm the groom and his entourage were welcomed into the fort on an elephant paraded by dancing horses, camels and musicians. Various ceremonies ensued and we were honoured with prime viewing positions. The actual marriage ceremony had to take place at the time set by the priest which happened to be 4.52am the following morning. We were allowed special access into the men's tent at the front of the house to enjoy some beer and whiskey and got a few hours sleep before the 4 hour service which finished with the circling of fire for the bride and groom and officially they could be pronounced man and wife.My parents especially left overwhelmed by the whole experience, but appreciative of how lucky they were to have the opportunity to be so closely involved in a traditional Indian family wedding. In a family of only one man (and more importantly in Indian culture, no sons!), what struck us most was the segregation between men and women- often we had to leave my Dad outside because it was inappropriate for Mum, Gabi and I to go outside or for him to go inside where the women celebrated. I later found out that no women from the groom's family even attended the wedding- they had to stay at their own houses while their husbands and sons enjoyed the party.How lucky I feel to be let inside a family, to have been so close to a culture so different to mine. I feel truly blessed that I had the chance but it's good to be back in England, with my real family where I truly belong. Sometimes I think I was living on pause in India but now life hurtles forward.Where I'm living now...The views expressed in this weblog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of VSO.