Hello from Assam India
I have been in Dimow Dhemaji, a remote village in Assam India for over a week now. India is a country of indescribable beauty, complex yet very simple lives, opportunity, and growth with no limit in sight, but also a harsh awakening to the severity of a developing country.
Old women sit, their mouths never stop moving as they chew bittle nut often with tabaco. Many of the men and women alike are adorned in silver and gold rings and bangles. Women in saries of every pattern and design colour the street. Children play unsupervised games of cricket, soccer, and tag.
If you can imagine India as a forever growing quilt and sown together with thousands of different threads you may be able to come to a small understanding. Only 20 minutes away from the place I am staying is a village with a completely different mother tongue, different traditional clothing, different food preparations and beliefs.
There is no one point in which I can fully describe the things I have seen and learned during the short but sometimes seemingly very lengthy time I have spent here. On some days I wish for nothing else in the entire world than to be back home in my cool mountain town of Fernie with the comforts of a western life style, my family and familiar faces, and of course my mountain bike!
As I am staying in a remote area of north east India. it is traditional for the food to be simple with little seasoning and little variety. Aside from the meals there are shops that sell baked sweats, homemade samosas, packets of salted peanuts, massive bunches of bananas, and bottles of sweet mango juice. To put prices in perspective, 1 Canadian dollar is almost equivalent to 50 rupees. Many of the foods that I buy are only 5-10 rupees.
I learned quickly of the many things we take for granted like toilet paper and eating utensils... (wipe with your left hand, eat with your right hand!) running water, and washing machines (I shower and clean my clothes using a water pump and a bucket).
The rainy season is nearing its end but almost every night and some days the sky opens and a steady rain falls, leaving the pathways in which we use to get to the toilet, the wash hut, and the main house in ankle deep water that we wade through until the ground soaks up the moisture and the air is thick and humid.
The vegetation surrounding my small remote village and the hundreds of of other small villages is thick and green. Vines climb the trees and the ground crawls with grasses and moss, the rice field far and wide bursting with light and dark greens. The mountains jut up from the flat ground suddenly becoming increasingly more intense and thick with jungle on the way up as if they were molded by the lumps in an unmade bed. White cranes spot the horizon.
Animals roam freely on the streets and in the yards. Each belongs to an owner. Pigs, cows, chickens, goats, dogs, and cats wander aimlessly scrounging for leftovers and getting in the way of cars, busses and scooters.
I have found driving in India to be a constantly exciting event. Vehicles have a sort of language using their horns. They never stay on one side of the road and I am convinced I have seen my last day every time another vehicle is coming our way, as we swerve with only seconds to spare.
I am staying with a family that hosts volunteers for their school (LMT Dimow public school) and the main house is home to eight people: Sunil, Two two (Sunil's wife), Jodi and her baby (Sunil's sister), Sunil's mother, and a boy my age that we call Otter (nephew of Sunil). And two children that are not of relation to the rest of the family but are in a way being fostered by the family for unfortunate circumstances. Sunil's mother is very generous, she pays for many of the students' tuition who are unable to pay.
The school ranges from preschoolers to Fourth graders (3-9 years old) ad they are very keen to learn and very excited at anything new that I am able to offer. I have taught them many "repeat after me" camp songs, team building skills, along with some games to help with English words.
In India it is tradition for the son of a family to stay home and take care of his parents as they get older. The daughter must leave home when she is married.
I found out very quickly when I arrived in India what is important from the many questions that followed:
What is your last name?
What is your fathers name?
Where are you from?
Did your parents allow you to travel here on your own?
What is your religion?
Do you have a partner?
Can I take a picture with you?
I am staying in a bamboo hut poised in the backyard with two rooms, one for myself and the other occupied by a German man who's name is Freddy, we are not always the greatest of friends but I respect him. He is a hard worker and I am curious of his ways. He has travelled for the past ten years, at age 29 he lives a very minimal lifestyle. Going home to work, only to make enough money to travel again. He came to India with only a small bag of belongings, and I large red suitcase filled to the brim with books.
In the time I have stayed here I have been peed on by a baby, a lizard has fallen from the ceiling on to my arm during dinner, I have learned about the issues of a women's menstruation cycle, seen the damage of pollution, helped plant gardens, walked to the river (and of course swam fully clothed), learned the true meaning of packing light, eaten a lifetime's worth of rice, cried, wrote in my journal and read every day, and taught eager students.
I am now planning my next adventure to Cherrapunjee, Meghalaya to do some trekking and to see for myself the ancient living bridges made from tree roots!
There is so much more that I could write! But here is a small taste of my trip.