By Dhriti Agarwal.
Thanks to an existential crisis and a surge of wanderlust, the day after my half yearly exam found me squeezed in a train compartment heading towards the melting pot of several cultures- Mcleond Ganj. I was planning on practising the Buddhist principle of selflessness and hence volunteering at the Ropgpa nursery and the Lha conversation class.
The nursery involved sticky fingerprints on my glasses and drops of pee on my pants. But it also involved sloppy kisses and teddy bear hugs. By the end of the month, I came to the conclusion that kids are like miniature hurricanes drenched in caffeine: they scream a lot, play a lot and pee a lot. But in spite of the backache they’ve given me in the past one month, I know that I will be going back someday.
As an introvert, the conversation class seemed like a Herculean task in the beginning. Being used to meaningless conversations that could be sustained with mere nods of my head, initiating a conversation with a group of complete strangers seemed almost alien and completely bizarre to me. I didn’t know what to say or ask them and they refused to say anything themselves. But as the days flew by, the “I” and “they” began to merge into a “we”. As a team we navigated over the rough waters of the English language and moved from the safe harbour of conversations based on the cue cards to philosophical discussions over Maslow’s triangle of hierarchy. Stories were the oars of our ship that the Tibetan, Indian, Bhutanese and Korean students used to row until Lobsang would religiously knock on the door at five o’clock saying “class is over guys” and anchor the ship for the day. And as I stepped out of class on the last day, I knew that we had done something right because my sailors knew the difference between “your” and “you’re”.
In conclusion, the trip turned into so much more than what I had bargained for. I had thought that it would be a mere échapée from the rat race with lesser fire crackers but this one month has given shape and size to my otherwise shapeless life. Within this month, this place and these people have embedded themselves under my skin in such a way that I’m dreading the day this dream will end and my coach will become a pumpkin.