Being in India has been quite a drastic change from our lush living in Seattle. Team Gitanjali experienced a lot of differences in the culture and way of life here in India. Due to the nature of our project, we were invited to a slum to visit the home of some waste pickers. This was enlightening and one of the highlights of my trip to see the life and color of the people inside the slums. Most people who visit India will never venture into a slum, and I am so thankful that our team was invited in to see how people live in that situation.
Our team also experienced one harsh reality of India: death. One day on our way into work with Gitanjali, we were crossing the bridge over the river in Ahmedabad and everyone was pulled over. Our curiousity led us (and our adventurous, but lovable driver, Dave) to check out what the commotion was. We got out and then we saw it. The body floating in the river. I’ve never really seen a dead body before and it was quite a shock to the three of us present. According to Dave, the man had jumped off the bridge the night prior. It was upsetting, but we were told by our Gitanjali CEO, Neelma, that this was good luck!
One other reality of India is the pollution. I think many people came to India not anticipating how bad the pollution might be, myself included. I was surprised at the levels of pollution in the sky in Ahmedabad, and the amount of black fumes coming out of autorickshaws and cars. The ground was the trash can, and there was rubbish in many parts of the city.
Despite the realities, these things were all eye-opening experiences. It is always good to get away from what you know and see how other people live their lives. Despite some of the shocks, being thrown into the culture of a city in India has been a great learning experience!