We're here at 61, the nickname of my grandfather's home. It feels great to be back in India, and the reality set in that this is my second trip in two years, a great luxury after only making it three times in the previous six. I've only seen a few relatives thus far, but the joy of family never gets old. And my grandfather, who is over 100 years old, woke up at 2 am to firmly say, "It is with great pleasure that I welcome you."
I'll leave the observations to Tony, as everything has a hint of familiarity to me. But I am looking forward to the culture shock he experiences when the seemingly empty streets are flooded with millions of people, cars, bikes, busses, scooters, and everything else you can imagine.
We thought our plan of partying all night in Hamburg, then catching a six hour train, and then a nine hour flight would sufficiently confuse our bodies to avoid jet lag. But it's almost 6 am and we're still up, so I guess not.
It will take us a few days for updates on our project to really get going, as we head to Kudugal at the end of the week. But that doesn't mean we won't be busy, as we just learned tonight that we get to serve breakfast at a school for the blind on Monday, and hopefully lunch there on Wednesday. It's in relation to a charitable endeavor headed by my mom, but we expect to sneak in some lessons about education.
I've been pretty clear that charity is not our intention here (I don't believe it is sustainable, and I think it frames problems in the wrong context), but there's no denying that in small doses it can do a lot of people a lot of good. And there's no denying we're excited about actually doing something after talking about it for more than a year, so we'll help in any way we can (for now).
The first touching moment came much earlier than expected, as my mom explained to me our schedule for Saturday. In India, school is generally six days a week with Saturday being a half day. The school in Kudugal generally gets out at 11, but the students collectively decided that they would stay until 12 so we could have more time with them. I can't imagine agreeing to more school at the end of the week just for some strangers, but the gesture speaks for itself. Now we just have to make it worth their while.