By: Kendall Cochran
Strength and Welcome
At Dodital, there was a peaceful cold – even though I was ill, I knew I was meant to be there. On this trip, I often experienced feelings of belonging; but at Dodital those feelings were at there strongest. Dodital is one of the most holy places in India. Hindu pilgrims from across the country come to experience the place where Lord Ganesh got his elephant head. When we arrived at sunset I could hear bells ringing. Further in, I came upon the temple where saw my fellow travelers, Hindu worshippers, and could hear the priest chanting for the pooja the prayer.
On the way back down the next day we stopped in Manji, one of Agora’s summer villages. We were welcomed by Praveen’s relatives with a cup of chai. Praveen said the summer villages the most beautiful place he’s ever been and the he’d like to die there. I’d have to agree minus the dying part. At the summer village I felt accepted. They had wooden long houses with thatch roofs, cows and water buffalos lived inside too. No electricity just fire and isolation. No roads just the land. People go there for the cooler climate and abundant natural resources.
I woke up in Agora after the hike and the watched the fog climbed up the valley. The day was dedicated to the giving back to the community that so kindly welcomed us. I spent half the day with Nicole and Ms. MK at Suman’s house making chapati. I learned that Suman’s mother and wife tag team to help each other with the kids and the house work while Suman is out working they are such strong people. The second half of the day I spent with my host family. We ate lunch and played dress up. After that I helped a woman carry bag a vegetables up to her house and helper clean the vegetables. Again I thought that this was such a strong woman. She had to carry that load from the lodge to the end of the village. Doing these things, I felt I was a part of the community.
Strength and welcome is what I have been feeling through out this entire trip. Staying in Agora and seeing these people take us in and welcome us with open arms felt amazing. The woman in Agora carry hundreds of pounds on there backs across the village, and if they have to, up to the summer village. In America some people are not as accepting and would not welcome you if you just showed up on there door randomly. It takes lots of physical strength to carry hundreds of pounds on your back but it a also takes a lot of mental strength to push yourself to keep going. I’m so grateful that I have had the opportunity to meet these people.