Getting to the school was such a journey. The 10 hour bus ride was the perfect way to ease us into the hardships, yet all the fun that we would be having on the trip. Getting off that bus and seeing the kids lined up in rows waiting for us, made everything finally sink in. This, right here is what we were all working towards. With each day the feeling sunk in deeper and deeper and by the end of the week, I felt as though I was leaving a little part of me at King’s Kids. I fell in love with everyone, and everything. That single week at the school has taught me more than anyone ever could. I learned that people are inherently good. This may seem like something so standard, but the way I was raised was to second guess everyone, never let down your guard, someone is always out there to get you. At King’s Kids I probably went through the scariest thing I have ever been through. It felt twice as frightening because some of the people I wanted there to hold my hand were on another continent. I was taken away from this fear by someone who went above and beyond just taking care of my physical health. This person completely took me out of the situation, and looking back on that evening, the only thing I can remember is a soothing peaceful voice telling me to just keep eye contact and that everything will be all right. In a moment of pure panic, nothing else, when the world is crumbling around you and you feel like there is nothing left to hold on to, someone who owed me nothing, came in to help. People are inherently good, and I will forever remember that and be thankful to the person who kept my ground when I couldn’t.
The lead up to the trip was the most stressful moment of my life. I remember sitting in the car and saying “Stop the car, right now, I can’t go, turn around” but once I got to the airport all my worries kind of subsided. I saw all my friends and everyone was smiling and talking to each other. It was nice to see many families come together to see us off. The lead up at that moment, was fantastic. The 13h flight was pretty fun, actually. We met another class that was travelling to Thailand I believe. We talked to them for quite a while. The flight from HKG to HYD was basically non-existent for me because I was passed out the entire time, tired from the first flight. Landing in HYD was the most exciting thing because you get hit with the “Woah…I’m in India…” and everything becomes real. I heard many people say that the airport looked like the airport in the Philippines, which was cool because I was also drawing my own connection. Every single time I land in Israel I feel the warm air and the different smells, I hear the loud honking of the cars and no matter what time of day or night, there were always people on the street going about their own hustle and bustle. Standing in the HYD airport, if I closed my eyes for even a second, I was at home, because all the smells, sounds, and feelings were the same. Little did I know that King’s Kids would become my second home for which I long for day in, and day out.
I think the thing I am most concerned about is the food when we get to India. I have a gluten allergy, which I think is the most annoying allergy (aside from peanuts) that you can have because almost everything has gluten in it. I would really like to experience all the foods of the country that will be offered to us, but at the same time, some sauces use gluten as a thickener, and rice that isn’t organic sometimes has gluten in it…and there really isn’t a way to check.
From what we have learned about the diet in India is that it is mostly vegetarian, which is really great. I’m honestly really curious to find out more about the customs and traditions that are associated with the Indian culture once we get there 🙂
I was having an average day yesterday. A day that you don’t really remember when you look back at all the days you have ever had. Yesterday was just going to fall into the pit of forgotten memories. As the day slowly progressed, Andee came up to me and started talking about pants. She started rambling on and on about how her mom found pants for the work week and that they were really comfortable and thin, and she really likes the way they look, on and on. I turned around and said to her, “Packing 9 years in advance, as usual, aren’t we Andee?” And she looked at me long and hard and said, “Dude, bro, honey, sweetheart. We’re leaving in 2 weeks”.
“Psshh… No!” I said, “It’s still February! We’re leaving mid-March!!” At that moment Andee pulled out the calendar on my phone and we counted off the days. 2 weeks. TWO FREAKING WEEKS IS HOW LONG WE HAVE UNTIL WE LEAVE!!!! Then it suddenly hit me. This thing is real. We aren’t just learning about a hypothetical third world country. We are ACTUALLY GOING TO INDIA. Me. Elena Alexander Madorsky is going to INDIA!? AND IN TWO WEEKS!?
I’m not even sure what to make of it, I’ll be honest. I don’t know what I’m feeling but if I could paint a word picture of what is going on inside my head it would be that rainbow screen we saw on cable when the channel was down and that high pitched tone all the way through. I feel like I have always known that I was going but I don’t think I really KNEW.
I need to go buy pants.
The Indian Caste System is basically a process of placing the Indian people in occupational categories. This system is rooted in religion and focuses mainly on a division of labour. Based on which caste you are, there are only certain jobs that you are able to do.
The following is how the structure of the caste system:
- Brahmin- Consist of those engaged in scriptural education and teaching, essential for the continuation of knowledge.
- Kshatriya- Take on all forms of public service, including administration, maintenance of law and order, and defense.
- Vaishya: Engage in commercial activity as businessmen.
- Shudra: Work as semi-skilled and unskilled laborers.
Ghandi renamed the fifth caste (the untouchables) “Children of God”. The Caste system is still a prevalent part of everyday life in India where employers and people still heavily rely on it to tell them what jobs they should have, and where in the society they belong. This is something that isn’t heavily seen in our culture in Canada. Here, we take for granted the fact that we can pursue any occupation regardless of your social standing.
I have a very real fear of waking up one day and realizing that my entire life has gone by and I haven’t done anything significant. Sometimes I feel like a traitor for leaving Israel and my family, friends, and neighbours behind as they face terror attacks. I feel guilty for leaving my little brother home while I go to Toronto for school next year, and not being part of his life growing up. I hate that I don’t get to spend time with my parents because there is always something “more important” to do.
The list goes on.
The thing is, as bad as this probably is, I think about these things every single day. But, one thing that I tell myself as I start to sink deeper and deeper into the list is that what our class will be doing in March is significant. Despite what many have told me, I don’t believe that the trip is merely and excuse to buff up my university application, and our lack of construction education doesn’t make us useless on sight. I think that the 30 of us going are brave young people who are stepping into new territory and trying to evoke some change and positivity in the world. This project is something I feel really good to be a part of. I am so thrilled to be going with everyone in the class because I really feel as though I have grown so much closer to people that I hadn’t expected to grow closer to.
A little selfishly, I am glad that this is the one thing that I am sure of that won’t end up on my list regrets, and fears.
The other day in class we did a test run of what a flea market experience would look like. We had four people act as the merchants and the rest of the class would be broken up into small groups with a shopping list of things the needed to buy. This sounds simple enough, however, the twist was that the four merchants spoke only in a language other than English. This made it difficult for the class and the merchants to communicate about the pricing of the items they needed. I think this was a very interesting experience because it was very different from the flea market experiences I have had. Most of the flea markets I have been to were in Israel and bargaining with the shopkeepers has been rather easy (well , sort of) becasue I could speak Hebrew to them and there would be no language barrier. However, in India, when we get to these kinds of situations, we must be able to find ways to go around them. Some valuable skills that we learned was to always keep your money safe- never leave it sitting on the table. Also, you never say your number first. You have to wait for the merchant to tell you how much they are selling the item for and then go from there. Overall, it was a really fun experience and I enjoyed it quite a bit!!
In a well developed society under a responsible government, we are used to the luxuries that are human rights. I can choose to pursue and any desired career without the social barriers standing in my way. However, it is he reality in some places, that women simply don’t have that kind of freedom. Once they are born into the cycle of prostitution it is near impossible to come out of it. Women in India have the same goals, dreams and aspirations as women in Canada however they are simply not able to pursue them. Even though the laws in Canada and India are the same in regards to prostitution, they are simply not enforced in India thus putting their women and children in a cycle of poverty.
After much research on the various influential Indian personalities, I was rather intrigued by the story of Akbar The Great. Akbar was the greatest of the Moghul emperors (1542- 1605), consolidating a large empire across India, and establishing a culture promoting the arts and religious understanding. Akbar came to the throne at the age of 14 after the death of his father. Akbar set forth an example of tolerance. Due to him being of a young age, Bairam Khan an Afghan Shia Muslim was to rule the Kingdom while Akbar grew up. Bairam was sent on a pilgrimage to Mecca, escorted by Akbar’s army. However, Bairam turned against the army because he didn’t want to go on the pilgrimage and was brought to Akbar to be executed. Akbar, on the other hand, showed mercy on Bairam and displayed a high level of tolerance to his people.
The story of Akbar continues to be taught to children to this day, relaying the same message of tolerance and forgiveness.