Delhi 19-24 August
New Delhi Travel Blog› entry 37 of 37 › view all entries
Chennai was a quick stopover on the way to
From Chennai, we caught a flight to
3 hours of sleep, and we were back at the venue, computer in hand – coffee in veins. I remembered how tiring these meetings were. But we pushed through again and then set to work finalizing the project until 2:00 am. Thus, my time with the NGO officially came to an end; for the second time.
Though I had hoped to explore
But it wasn’t. Henri wanted to thank me for my work and time over the last 6 months. I’m not one to honor myself, but I feel its worth recording what I recall from those few precious minutes. Not precious because I feel I deserved it, but rather because it felt good to know that I helped and made some little difference over the past six months. Recognizing that I did not do the work alone, he thanked me nonetheless for starting the wheels of the annual report and for assisting with the Public Tribunals. He said that not only did I do a tremendous amount of work myself, but I also organized the work so that others could come in and seamlessly start, and exit, without any change to the momentum of the project. He said I worked with extreme humility, ensuring that he was consulted at every stage, but also taking it upon myself to ensure a quality final product. He then turned it over the state directors with whom I had worked over the last 6 months in Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal,
When all were finished, I spoke. As I was talking I realized that I had a lot to say, and so censored myself, simply thanking them for welcoming me as a friend and family and for making my introduction and transition into Human Rights work one I will never forget. As I spoke to these familiar faces, memories flooded through my mind – most of them sitting in auditoriums packed with Indian villagers in their colorful saris and men in lungis and dhotis. Most were poor and probably Dalits. Most had been marginalized their entire life and police torture was only the latest incident in a life of mistreatment and societal disregard.
I thought of the preparation of cases and the organization of files. Of meeting the volunteers and introducing myself, knowing that I would be asking them to dig deep into themselves and work for 2 days and nights, and wondering whether they would be committed. I remember sitting with them as the clocks were blinking 2:00; 3:00; 4:00 reminded us all that time was racing past, that sleep would be short and work long. Without fail all the volunteers hung in there, and all gained much from the “real life” experience of seeing and assisting the victims.
I thought of the hours I spent in the Media Lab with Anitha, Dorian, Neville, Rebecca, and Mytili. Planning, working, venting, eating biscuits, laughing. But all this was too much to share with the room.
In the end, I was simply glad that whatever I effort I was able to put forth, helped all of them accomplish the work they had set to do for 3 years. That I was appreciated and that they were happy with me is the greatest reward for which I could ask.
In the afternoon I met with Kanika and Kritika. Kanika I met in the desert with Dan way back in November. We stayed in touch via email and the occasional phone call. It was Kanika’s birthday on the 22 Aug, and she was kind enough to extend the invite. After an afternoon and evening of shopping in Paharganj, we completed our purchases of peacock feathers and colorful pants for the monsoon-theme party.
It was great to see Kanika and meet her sister. Both have sunny personalities and unbelievable outgoing personalities. Interacting with them is like spending time with really fun cousins, feeling like I have known them for years rather than hours. We had a nice dinner taking advantage of Kebab Month at QBA. After a pan desert, I returned to this Vishwa Yuvak Kendra.
Rebecca and I spent the day sightseeing in
With some trepidation, Rebecca and I headed to West Punjabi Bagh for the party. I never know what to expect attending the party of a new friend. We were warmly greeted, and instantly I was comfortable.
Bottles piled on the table on the terrace, fans transformed the humid
I stayed sober, except for the 4 Red Bulls. I had wonderful conversations with several of the guys about
The sun rose while I was sipping sweetened tea. I watched as Kanika danced to the dawn, her blue skirt and mirrors reflecting in the baby blue nascence of morning. Eyes and bodies fading, people were laid out or sleeping on the cushions to ambient-electronic. The mood, the heat, the colorful costumes, I felt like I was back at Burning Man; just as I had been shortly before leaving SF to Delhi; and now shortly before leaving Delhi to SF. I hugged everyone goodbye in the morning, watching as they headed back to their lives and I to mine, but hoping it was a beginning and not an end.