How is India?

Since I landed in the Hyderabad airport on May 22 I get asked the same question a lot. How is India? I usually brush it off with a generic answer but 5 weeks in here is my honest answer to that question.

India is loud. The whole city of Hyderabad is always pulsing. There is a constant off-tune symphony of horns, people, and animals all at once. My favorite time to see Hyderabad is at night. Usually I will walk with a group over to one of the nearby streets. The city comes alive at night and there are people everywhere. I love eating the street food and watching people as they go about their lives. India is always in your face, I can never forget where I am. Even just a walk outside can sometimes be a sensory overload- there are so many different smells, sights, and sounds. Sometimes I love the overwhelming nature of India and some days I just want to hide from it all.

India is beautiful. There are so many colors everywhere. Sometimes I love to watch the colors flash by from by auto or marvel at the beauty of the saris drying on the balconies. Other times the colors hurt my eyes and I can barely take in everything I am seeing. On Sunday I went Golconda Fort. The trip advisor reports made it sound run down so we were pleasantly surprised when we saw the majestic ruins. As we climbed up higher and higher I was struck by how beautiful the city was. Close-up there is grim and dirt but from up above the whole city gleamed white. This is what I feel like God is trying to teach me right now. Yes there is pain and suffering but he made the world beautiful and he made beautiful people to populate the world. And sometimes I get caught up in the details of life and cannot see the whole beautiful picture that God is making in my life. Sometimes I need to climb to the top and see the whole picture for the details to make sense. There is beauty in the path to the top.

India is hard. Communicating with people across language and cultural barriers is always hard and being in India is no exception. It’s hard to draw the line between respecting the culture and trying to get done what needs to be done. It’s hard seeing children and young adults with special needs and knowing how much better their lives could be if they got adopted. SCH is doing a wonderful job of caring for all their needs but at the end of the day they all need families. It’s hard to know that the more severe children- the ones who have a special place in my heart- have an even slimmer chance of being chosen for adoption despite the fact that they need specialized intervention that we can never provide. It’s hard to see social issues up close and personal. It’s hard to be surrounded by a religious culture that isn’t my own. It’s hard to be a minority and get constantly stared at and asked to pose for pictures. Some days being in India is hard.

India is joyful. Every day I find joy in the work I’m doing. I find joy when Katherine finally reacts to her visual schedule after weeks of repetition- even if it’s to cry when I give her the ball the signifies the start of her PT time. I find joy when I get chai shoved into my hands and am forced to sit and drink it. I find joy in the sunset, in the flowers that get put into my hair, in the sky that is just a slight different shade of blue than at home, and in the smiles that greet me every day when I walk into Courage Home. And even on hard days I still find joy all around me if I look hard enough.

So here is the truthful answer to the question. India is loud but beautiful, hard but joyful.

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