The unbearable sunshine fell directly into my eyes, the humid, hot air pinched at my face, my shoes were filled with sand and my hair was a dusty mess. But none of these things were enough to bring down my excitement about the week ahead of me.
After three hours of making a fuss about the course and the upsetting bus ride, we finally arrived in a village called Gaid. At first, it felt like a curse when we stepped out into the sandy and grassy region, but eventually we settled in and cherished the incredible location and people.
We pitched the tents and took a short but satisfying nap, and then watched the sun set over the village and the hills beyond. I cannot remember the last time I was as happy about not having a phone or a laptop, or perhaps, any other connection to the outside world. This was the beginning to a trip I will never forget.
Gaid is just like any other Indian village where most people farm to make a living and struggle to fulfil their basic needs. The locals, despite being conservative, were kind hearted, warm, and welcoming. Even though the village was underdeveloped and survival was hard, they never failed to plaster a smile across their faces to welcome guests.
The next day, I woke up to a stiff back after an uncomfortable night’s sleep. At nine in the morning, we headed down to the village school which was a two kilometre walk that led to a dusty downward path. The school was located at the bottom of the hill. Here, we interacted with little kids and had a jolly time, we made murals on the school walls and painted with the kids. We also shared experiences and tales about our lives and they did the same.
After spending the entire day with the kids, we went back to our camp site. Later, some of us hiked up to the top of the hill and lay there looking at the starlit night sky. The stars and moon were so vivid that we did not feel the need to have a torchlight. We walked back down to the village with the moonlight bouncing off the cacti and glittery rocks.
We also followed villagers around and did their daily chores with them for a day. We did all sorts of chores like carrying hay and popping lentils. This was the most tiring day of our week, it left our muscles sore and heads spinning. We were too worn out to do anything after, and collapsed into our sleeping bags as soon as we got the chance to.
The next day, we went back to the village school and had a lovely time. We played volleyball with the children one last time before we heavy-heartedly bade goodbyes and left with sad faces.
After shivering in the cold nights for four days, we were finally able to warm ourselves up. Collecting firewood and building the fire was a hard task, but it was worth it! We sat around and talked about the trip and the amazing time we had so far.
On the last day of our visit, we went around talking to the villagers to find out more about their lives and the major problems they had. This was really informative and we came across many interesting facets of village life. The little things that we don’t even pay attention to and take for granted were big problems for them.
For us, this week was about experiencing the difference in people’s living conditions, learning to value life and embracing it the way it comes. More than that, it was a blissful experience and we all went back with some incredible memories. This trip made me realise that regardless of living in the same world, there is a large gap between the “rich” and the “poor”. A gap we fail to fill, and the day we fill this gap, the world would be a happier place.