In The Land of Dhrangadra

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Today is my last day in Dhrangadhra and I have to say it is a bittersweet feeling.  I am happy to get back to my life but sad to be leaving all the people I have met.  I can’t say I will miss the smell of cow poop in the morning or dodging the droppings as I walk down the street, but life is much simpler here and there is no rush to do anything.  I will miss the evening talks in the garden with Bapa and the breeze as it flies by with birds humming in the background and frogs croaking all the while.  I will miss bedtime talk with my roommate Elayna and the laughing that ensues when we talk about our days.  I will miss dancing with Suman. I will also miss Mehul’s ideas on Ayurvedic medicine and yoga; I will also miss the fact that he and I share a lot of the same ideals. I will miss afternoon tea and the samosas that sometimes accompanied my drink.

The air is different here, it is thick and hot and most of the time it is filled with dust and grime, your skin is dry and chalky and you think it will never be the same again but you desperately hope that it will.  When you walk outside of your door in the morning the heat slaps you right in the face, and you want to turn around and go back into your comfortable room with an ac unit, but if you do you know men will be banging down your door screaming, “Breakfast!” So you keep moving and sit down to drink your tea with lots of milk and sugar and eat your bran and coco puffs. What you know is that the heat will only progress as the day goes on and your legs will be dripping sweat and your back will have beads running down.  This is inevitably your day but you proceed and actually enjoy it.  The dancing is silent with only a young woman’s voice calling out beats and the slap of your foot against the floor, then you hear a dog cry out and wince because you are unsure of what is actually going on, but wish you could help but can’t. All mornings are like this in this strange and foreign land, and even though you know this is not reality it is yours for the next 30 days.

Well that’s sort of how my mornings felt and there were days that I just ignored the staff banging on my door, but then I found out they cannot eat unless we all have, and I made sure to be there at a reasonable hour because I felt guilty for being so privileged.  They got up early and made my breakfast and they couldn’t have theirs until I had mine; I think it’s a bit strange, but I do not understand old customs and especially those of royal people.

Every morning and evening there is the call to prayer for Muslims and it can be heard throughout town, it is beautiful.  I was never able to find out where the man was calling from but wherever I was I could hear his voice.  The best time to hear him was in the early morning as the sun comes up.  I would wake up and hear him calling out and he always gently put me back to sleep.

There is a lot going on in the land of Dhrangadhra ,but it is so small one would never believe it.  There is one main road that leads in and out of the town and there are a lot of people selling and buying in the market everyday, but there is no nightlife, only men can go to the movies, and everything is closed by 11 pm.  But at the same time there are things called night programs that are constantly happening with music, dance, and drama.  They can go on from 9 pm till 4 am, and people perform for their gods and goddesses all night long.  These programs can go on for days ,and people go into trances and become healed, and gods come to life.  This is the amazing and magical part of this country; art comes to life in ways that most Americans can’t even imagine and until I got here neither could I.

I will be posting more pictures and videos of the trip when I get home since I will have easier access. Thanks for reading and hopefully I will see most of you soon.

About ricaperez

I am a 34 year old college student who is only one semester away from getting a degree in Biological Anthropology. Most people want to know what that is and it is the study of the human lineage, understanding of where humans originated from and where they are going. I have started a blog because I am going to be studying in India this summer 2012. I will be learning about the culture and specifically studying Ayurvedic medicine and Yoga.

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