Friday, August 3, 2012

India and I

Ever since I was 8 years old I have lived out of India.

I was born in Dehra Dun and Papa admitted us in a good school there, Convent of Jesus and Mary. But we left India when I was in 4th grade there. I did have the good fortune to come back to India and study in Vanasthali Vidyapeeth (near Jaipur) for one year for 8th grade. I was 11 yrs old then. It was the first time I learned all my subjects in Hindi, except of course English. It was a very challenging year for me, but that is another blog. I also did my B.Sc. and M.Sc. in India. Also quite an experience for me.  During my two years of B.Sc. I lived in the girl’s hostel, in Meerut, with my uncle as my guardian. M.Sc. was in Saharanpur with the joint family of my aunt. Again, that is for another two blogs. After those four eventful and wonderful years, I have only visited India every 4-6 years or so.

I have always felt a strong connection with India and want to keep coming back to my motherland, but since my immediate family is in USA, it was tough to come to a “home”. Whenever we came to India, we came as gypsies, ready with a suitcase and ready to move to a new place every third day. We would visit and stay with relatives or stay in hotels. There is a great freedom in doing that, and I got to travel all over India, which really has been a treat. India is beautiful.

However, for some years I have had a very strong urge to come to India especially to do some volunteer work. I tried that 7 years ago also, but it did not quite work out. So last year in 2011, I braved it and came to India on my own, which was a big step for me, as I did not even know who would pick me up from Delhi airport. Luckily, everything worked out (Krishna’s will) and I spent two months in Haridwar at Dev Sanskriti University, which is associated with Shantikunj. I had such a nice experience and met such good people that I could not resist coming back again this year (2012). The most important thing during these two years was that I stayed in one place and enjoyed one place rather than constantly packing and unpacking.

I don’t know what is going to happen in future. Coming to India in summer means no working in USA, which means no income and leaving my home and family for 3 months. So as much as I love my experiences and want to spend my summers here, I don’t know if I can do this every year. I wish it was easier......

My Second Summer at Dev Sanskriti Vishwavidyala (DSVV)

After coming to DSVV last year and meeting such good people, I thought I should come here at least once more and recreate the magic. My experience was good last year because I came with an open mind and was ready for anything and everything. I had 2-3 projects to do which involved going to different offices and collecting information. As much as I hate introducing myself 5 times to 5 different people in one day, I did it, because I needed to do it. I did end up finishing all the work I was given and actually did more than was expected.

There were 2-3 people I met last year who will be ingrained in my mind for the rest of my life. It was partly because of them that I wanted to come back again so quickly.  Also the beauty and fragrance of the flowers on this campus, the greenery and the just the peacefullness of the enviroment is hard to find anywhere else.

View of plumeria outside my room.

As before, the Pro Vice Chancellor, Dr. Chinmay Padya, gave me good projects to work on: making departmental brochures, proof reading, finalizing the induction book (an orientation booklet to DSVV) and some other work.

And just like last year my challenges began………last year also I had felt the differences in how academic institutions work in USA and India, and this year that difference became even more pronounced. Of course DSVV is not your typical university. It has a different philosophy, it does not charge any fees from its students and all faculty and staff work mostly on volunteer basis. The entire campus is like a big family, everyone lives on campus and knows each other etc etc.

The first few days passed by quickly and nicely as I was meeting with some old friends and working independently on the induction book. But as soon as I had to start going to the various departments to get information regarding the brochures, all my feelings of the previous year came back to me. I cannot image in USA that faculty will not be available in offices the week before classes start. There is generally very poor communication, people are not too email oriented, and if they do check emails then they don’t reply. But my thinking is that with little bit professionalism a place can be made even better.

Or maybe this is just my view……some people say I am a perfectionist, but the truth is I take pride in my work, I value the people around me and I prefer to finish my work on time.

This year was somewhat different than last year. Work was a little slow just like last year, but last year I got to do a lot more reading on SharmaJi’s literature than this year because this year I had my laptop. Because of this I could finish the work ChinmayJi gave me a lot faster. I was not tutoring anyone this year so my evenings were more free – which I think was good and bad. The good - I finished all my blogs on Kailash; the bad – I ended up watching movies sometimes instead of reading some good books.

All in all, the one month at DSVV was good this year. When will I be here or even in India next? Only Krishna knows………he is the driver of my life.