The Dispensary

Although I work at Daya Dan on a regular basis, usually 6 days a week, my schedule is still not perfectly stable. I tend to have something happen to me every day that causes disruption in my regular schedule. I wholeheartedly accept these interruptions. This morning the disruption happened to do with one of my greatest phobias. I have actually been intensely praying to get over my repuslion to blood and needles and today, I believe my prayers were answered.

I happened to be attempting to maintain order with the mentally and physically handicapped children of Daya Dan and trying to teach them at the same time, when an Australian tapped me on my shoulder. He told me Sister was trying to get my attention. She quickly said, “come, come,” in the way Indians do here and asked me very simply if I knew how to dress. I, of course, said yes because I was thinking in terms of children and dressing them. Little did I know that in the same building as this orphanage, a dispensary is run to take in impoverished people who needed desperately to receive medical attention.

I put on a smock, a […read more…]

What's Happening?

We may culturally say, “how are you?” when we encounter a person, but here in India, most people say “What’s Happening?” It took me a while to get used to that since I associate those words with accidents or bad things going on. Just a week here and people already know me on the street. I feel like I’ve been here for months, since every day is completely filled from morning until night and people here become friendly (with an obvious agenda) very quickly. Sometimes I go with my gut and I am completely wrong. My friend said it well when she said you feel like a spinning compass in this land. I like being known on the streets, it actually makes me feel quite safe because when I’ve been harassed by others, my Indian mates have come to the rescue. I often eat at this place everyone calls China Lane, seated on a hard bench. A woman hands me a steaming metal plate with newspaper underneath it, so I don’t burn my hands. They always call me “chili” as I walk by because I always ask for more chilis on my food; the spicier, the better is my motto!

[…read more…]

Daya Dan

In the early morning, I awaken at 4:50 am, dress into my very colorful salwar kameez, which is quite bright compared to the black I usually wear in NY, brush my teeth and my hair and take a long walk to church. The walk is through the main section of the muslim district and I pass cows, people sleeping under rickshaws, step over sleeping bodies, past muslims on their way to the mosque and stop for some boiling chai on the way. A woman named Sultana, who the long termers all know, will generally be waiting to have some tea with you. Yesterday, I was with Bernie, a long termer who has come every year for over 25 years. She works on the railways and collects people who need to be hospitalized, gives them medicine and does aid work at its most raw level. There are a number of people here like Bernie, they go back to their countries to work for a few months to gather monies and then come back here to the “city of Joy.” We stopped to have tea with Sultana and she told me about her situation. Her begging supports her entire […read more…]