“Why do people come to India? It’s to get inspired.”
Wow. It makes so much sense, yet I had failed to recognize this reasoning. Everywhere you look in India, inspiration is right in front of you. The world that many of us live in in North America is so incredibly artificial. Turn on the tap and water comes out. Push down the handle and our feces and urine disappear from sight. Even without a formal survey, I could say with a large degree of confidence that a majority people do not have any idea how clean water gets to their taps and what happens to sewage after they flush. And these are the basic facilities. Let’s not forget how we get our food, where our clothing comes from or how plastic containers are manufactured. At least for those living in urban North America, the world that we inhabit is a mirage, hiding complexities and our interconnectedness to the rest of the world and humanity.
Come to India and a lot changes. Even if you don’t live in a village, where the connection between farm and products is very apparent, you are more aware of the realities of the world around you. For example, my upper class family friends in Ahmedabad, like everyone else, have water worries. Before the Narmada dam project, every week, a tanker would come by to fill their water tanks. It’s a country where even if you live in an AC house and drive a Mercedes Benz, the realities of the living conditions of those at the bottom of the pyramid cannot be swept under a rug.
In India, inspiration is staring you in the face. Everywhere you look there is an opportunity to serve and/or learn. Every moment that I’ve been here has been a growing experience. Left, right and all around, I’m meeting people doing incredible work and with hearts of gold. Some are NRI’s and many are not. Each is giving of their self, body and soul included. In one way, it’s easy to live in India, to be inspired and motivated. I could see how it would be a very different challenge to go back and maintain that state in the industrialized world. It’ll most definitely be interesting to see how some volunteering returning to the US adapt. Ultimately though, if one learns to see from the heart vs the head, I believe that inspiration will be found everywhere.