Sunday, 27 January 2013

I don't envy you.

(Spot the whitey).

Something that has been spoken to me a few times over the past week in the lead up to my departure, are the words, "I don't envy you."
I don't envy that you have to say farewell to an incredible country.
I don't envy that you have all of those wonderful friends to hug one last time.
I don't envy that you have to figure out how to live life again back home.
I don't envy the emotions you're about to be faced with in a matter of days.
I don't envy that you'll be lacking a few adorable kids to cuddle on a bad day.
I don't envy you.

And I haven't envied myself either, I mean, I'm about to experience a drastic scenery change! I'm sure it will feel not too dissimilar to the reverse of when I first arrived here in this foreign place, as a foreign person trying to figure out how to adapt to this new environment.

I've been told all the kinds of events that could cause a bit of the ol' reverse culture-shock, how it's going to be scary to hear the words, "So, how was India?" (how do you even begin with that one?!), and that it can be difficult to think back on my time here because I'll be missing it.

Sure, it is going to be hard. It will be emotional, and potentially overwhelming.

The most powerful message a friend of mine wrote to me was, "It hurts, because you did it right."

Does that mean that I'm upset that it's going to be hard? Not one bit. There is an explanation that this place, this time in my life, these people are going to be difficult to farewell - because I have reason to feel distressed and anxious about getting through a week without sitting with the women in morning devotionals, hearing their voices lifted up. It's because I didn't just come here and sit behind the computer at work, I lived, laughed, and cried alongside these women who have become such incredible inspirations to me.

It will hurt, because I'm leaving the people I love here, for an undefined length of time. I will return some time in the (hopefully) near future, yet when and for how long are still to be known - but I will return.

I'm trying to figure out how I will deal with the emotions to come. So in advance, to all of my friends and supporters at home, please forgive me if I suddenly feel overwhelmed, find it difficult to be in a certain situation, or I find it difficult to put into words just what I have seen, been through, and experienced here. Please be patient with me.

I guess, to sum up, I'm glad that I will find it daunting and upsetting to leave here; it's a piece of me that I hold dear to my heart that I am about to only be able to see in memories and photographs until the day I return.

Maybe I did it right.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Children's christmas party.

A close friend of mine here in Kolkata asked me to take photographs for an event she was soon to host within the red-light district near to us. She runs programmes with some of the children who live in that area, and they were going to have a Christmas party, with games, prizes, and excitement!

Here is glimpse into that event.

Cricket Camp

This was a wee while ago now, but a few local groups similar to Freeset (i.e. with a heart for the women + children who live in and around Kolkata's red-light districts) organised a weekend of cricket for the children! A few coaches from the UK came over to show the kids a few skills, and basically just give them a weekend of fun that will keep them smiling for a good amount of time.

We handed each of them a brand-new tee + cap to make it official, and the whole lot of us marched with all of the equipment down to a local park.

Usually I don't get a chance to really spend an extended amount of time with the children at Freeset, mostly just a few cuddles in the morning, so a whole three days of being in the sun with these beautiful kids truly meant the world to me! Also, these ones were older (late primary to early teens) than others I get to interact with, so it was interesting to try and communicate with them! Now I understand why my parents always asked me to slow down when I spoke - these youngsters loved to speedily relay a few sentences my way, leaving me only with a confused look, and only one word I picked up.

These few days were the closest I have come to the Indian love for cricket, and it was very heart warming especially to see that the girls were quite keen to participate in what would normally be considered a men-dominated sport in this country.

It was also a great chance for me to get snap-happy (in fact, I was asked to come along for this reason especially), and they all absolutely loved to wrestle over the spotlight - although once there, it was sometimes difficult to ruffle up a smile out of them... I don't know what it is, but most people I have encountered here that are Indian nationals tend to hold a neutral expression. Secretly, I love this; it's a change from all the fake smiles, poses, and expressions that are all too easy to come across whilst browsing Facebook or the web.

Apart from being nearly attacked by a snarling dog, and having one too many young men spectators watching my every move, the cricket camp was such a valuable experience. The teen girls I became close to have definitely taken pieces of my heart with them.

I feel like half of my heart will be left here. At least.