India is the stereotypical globe-trotter destination. It’s partly because India symbolizes everything that is completely opposite our Western mindset: overtly religious, colorful, crowded, still influenced by an ancient caste system. Women are prized for their beauty, but not their minds. Often those who visit come home deeply touched by the extreme poverty they’ve seen. But as always for me, it’s the people who left their mark.
I’ve wanted to visit India since before Slumdog Millionaire, before Bride and Prejudice, before Monsoon Wedding and even before the first Bollywood film I saw. (This clip is classic! Check out the man sliding a horse under a truck, the jeep sailing over rows of parked cars, and the sweet special effects.)
For a while in college, I thought I might go be the next Mother Teresa. Along with everyone else, I deeply admire her commitment to service and caring for the poor. So it was a special treat to work with and spend time with these ladies:
These women are serving the poorest of the poor in Orissa state, caring for abandoned babies, providing basic medical care, running a leprosy hospital and giving encouragement when needed.
Some of these amazing women have served all over the Middle East and Africa, in war zones other tough posts. And yet, like my friend above, they have a wonderful spirit of peace surrounding them. It was a peace that sets them apart from the frenzied puja preparations we saw going on everywhere. Their compound was a haven from the bustling city around us.
I hope it was a time of peace and rest for my beautiful friends.