The First Day

By Rosie Kilby

Before the our first day in India as tourists had begun, we were warned about the cultural shock to be experienced. The scenes we witnessed were insane, just the glimpses of the people we saw proved that their lives were so incredibly unique and special in comparison to ours. The apparent contrast between our own lives and the lives of the Indians we saw are drastic, however, I would still not deem the theme of the day “cultural shock”. We were tourists and, for the better part of the day, were sitting in a bus. We did not wake up and cut sugarcane or cook chapatti for customers or wash our family’s clothes in a river. We watched these and hundreds of others lives as an observer. We did not need to risk ourselves for this experience. We are still naive as a group; we cannot emerge and enjoy ourselves in these people’s culture fully before we understand the people’s lives. An example of naivety was of my own when cute children came up to us begging everyone to buy a flower to float on the Ganges. After a while of the kids asking us over and over, I thought it would be funny and nice to give away some of my 10 rupee bills to them. I ended up handing out a 100 rupee bill to one of the kids; he was beat up by the others. A three foot tall kid was beaten up by 5 others for 67 cents. Nevertheless, the day was breathtaking in a way I’ve never experienced before. As the trip continues we will interact with the people more and more. We will steps out of our comfort zones as we talk to everyone as equals. This is difficult because most of the Indian people we see are serving or hosting us. We will need to make an effort to break this barrier, but once we are successful in this, I believe our experiences will change the way we view people different from us.

3 thoughts on “The First Day

  1. Rosie – you did a fantastic job of relating so many of your thoughts and experiences of just your first whole day. I’m impressed! You seem to have an open mind and heart and will therefore easily grow to love India and the wonderful people of Agora especially. Lucky you!

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  2. Buying trinkets from the folks who hound the touristy spots never appeals to me, but a memory that I know will stick with me from my time in Rishikesh (on this trip two years ago) was buying a candle from kids just like these to float in a leaf on the Ganges at sunset. I sent the candle out on the ancient water of the Ganges with a prayer for my own two kids…

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