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State of Contrasts (Bihar, India)

INDIA | Tuesday, 11 July 2017 | Views [479]

Upon arriving in not just the poorest state in India, but the poorest city, it was evident the next two weeks spent here was going to something incredibly different from my past experiences living, working and travelling for numerous years in Germany, Denmark, England, Sweden and Australia.

 

For me, not just meeting, but developing connections with locals is the forefront of a true expat, traveller or even tourist. Amid the chaos of the state of Bihar, and more particularly the city of Patna in India’s North West was a true sense of poverty, a lack of optimism and a soul destroying disparity between classes. My first thought – how can this be changed?

 

I have a task of contributing to the development of a new school in this area of India – one with a truly international feel, and this is where the change starts. Gender equality, a gap in classes and a movement away from typical education in India is where my initial connections are made. I see slaves, workers, children in despair, women cleaning floors.

 

My local connections ranged from the finance minister, the land minister and educational professionals at a conference where I gave a speech. To middle aged women living in an isolated village, showing me their houses, how they cook, how they live, how they survive without any medical support. I also connected with young university students, wanting a change, some hope. Their politeness and advanced social skills astounded me. These people need opportunity.

 

Connection with locals in India involves eating their food, drinking their tea, becoming a part of their family, but most importantly; listening, showing respect and helping to minimise the problems, even if it may be in a very small way. These people, with beautiful smiles, drink water they're not supposed to, feed numerous children without any regard for their own need, and sleep in one room. They don't expect much.

 

Along the way, I may have been sick, nervous, going without typical showers and foods, my mind was racing from the chaos and information I was trying to process. In the large scheme of things, I'm glad I could connect with all of the locals I met. I refused I to sit down when someone offered me their seat – my first response was always ‘it’s your seat, I don't need any special attention.’ A smile always ensued. It was worth it.

 

Tags: driving, exploring, hiking, trekking

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