Health & Wellbeing
Humanitarian Disaster Relief
Ukraine Refugee SupportIndia Covid-19Nepal Earthquake
Samsdrusti TrustDivya School-JawharDivya Arunodaya School-GadagSanvedana Divya Rehabilitation Centre-LaturSewa FellowshipDolakha Chhatravas (Boy's Hostel)Cochlea Implants for Children - Pune
Written by Kareena Terry
One of the biggest differences I realised between the Indian culture and the English is our emphasis on timing, structure and planning, compared to their laidback and relaxed ‘go with the flow’ attitude. Before my departure, I was given a written itinerary of my trip but I soon realised how little value this actually held. Unlike what I was told, I ended up spending my first two nights at a camp in Keshavshrushti instead of sightseeing in Mumbai, and my first day certainly involved a lot of unanswered questions. I soon realised that any timings I was given were meaningless and was often made aware of plans at the very last second. While this caused me a great deal of anxiety and discomfort, particularly in my first few days, I started to see it from a different perspective as I settled into life in India.
As a person who always likes structure and organisation coming from a culture in which such values are encouraged, the Indian way of ‘going with the flow’ came as a huge shock to me. However, I soon began to realise that sometimes perhaps it isn’t necessary to have every tiny detail of a plan ironed out and finalised – perhaps that takes out the fun. I began to tell myself that things would work out and, whether I felt like it or not, I was in safe hands. Throughout my India trip, I experienced several situations where I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I would get from one place to another, I didn’t know what I was meant to do once I got there, and I didn’t know how I would communicate with anyone once I did. Yet the thing that seemed to strike me was that, despite my anxiety, I always seemed to end up exactly where I needed to be when I needed to be there. Someone was always taking care of things, whether I could see it or not. I started to enjoy the freedom, and the lack of clear instruction meant my trip was truly for me to make my own. I realised more than ever that I had to have faith – it was time to relax and let things take care of themselves.
There were many points during my trip when I couldn’t help but feel a lot like a dog. It sounds crazy to say, but let me explain. All around me, people were speaking in either Hindi or Marathi, neither of which I understand. I often found myself in a room full of people communicating with one another, sometimes even talking about me, and I could barely understand a word. The only clue I would have as to what they were saying were the occasional words of English used here and there in both languages, much like a dog who usually learns one or two words of his owner’s mother tongue.
I learnt to pay greater attention to tone, body language and facial expressions to help me form some kind of understanding. I also experienced several occasions when I knew we were going somewhere but didn’t fully understand where or why until we got there, much like the life of a dog! Whilst this initially also caused me some anxiety, I once again began to relax as I realised that everything was always taken care of, whether this was expressed to me or not. I realise now that there is a lot to be learnt from our furry friends – they live their lives expectantly and often completely in the dark just like I was. Yet they are always happy and joyful because the next moment could hold any number of exciting things.
For the most part, they are entirely trusting of their owners because they know that everything is always taken care of. Their role is simply to relax, have fun and enjoy the ride. Towards the end of my trip, the time came to make arrangements for my transport back to Mumbai and to the airport. However, like many things during my trip, this was not straightforward. We considered the options of taking a taxi to Solapur or a bus to Pune in order to board the train to Mumbai as it was proving difficult to book a direct train from Latur. For a few days I remained unsure and, having seen the huge and overcrowded Indian train stations, the thought of boarding an overnight train alone filled me with anxiety. Nevertheless, my earlier experiences had taught me to trust, and I knew that something would work itself out – and it did.
After a few days of going back and forth between options, the wonderful staff at Sanvedana came to my rescue. Having treated me like a granddaughter for my entire stay, Ashokji was adamant that I would not board the train alone and, along with Adarsh and Sureshiji, managed to book the two of us onto a direct train from Latur to Mumbai. With the true Indian care and warmth, Ashokji accompanied me all the way back to Mumbai where I stayed with his lovely daughter Radhika and granddaughter Keya who were kind enough to welcome me to their home, before taking me to the airport the next morning. I was once again overwhelmed by this level of care and kindness that I have never received anywhere else.
One of my greatest takeaways from the whole journey is the importance of trusting the process. Things will always work out in the end, and you are never alone, no matter how much it can feel like it in the moment.
About Sewa UK
Governance & Ethics
Leaving a Legacy
Charity Number 1135425. Company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales No. 06976220.
© Sewa UK 2023
Charity Number 1135425. Company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales No. 06976220. © Sewa UK 2023