Picture yourself relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. Perhaps watching a game of cricket, eating julabe, or enjoying the next episode of your favorite Indian telenovela. The stress of the week is yet to come, you have little to no responsibilities at the moment. Life is good. You are peaceful. Then, you get a knock at the door.
Begrudgingly, you get up to open it, only to find your beloved cousin Saurabh Ji and a foreigner with two backpacks, a duffel bag, and baggy pants that are a dead giveaway this girl has never been to Varanasi before. After a brief conversation in Hindi, you find the foreigner sitting in your guest room, unpacking her bags for the night. Not only is she staying with you, she also is suffering from a gastrointestinal sickness that we won’t go into much detail about, oh and she’s also vegan, and needs a mosquito net over her bed so sorry, but you have to hammer some nails into your wall.
But never the less, you are kind! And welcoming, and offer lemon tea and snacks and don’t complain at all. After the initial awkward pleasantries, customary cup, and my home-stay-for-the-night-brother finally mustered up the courage to remove himself from underneath his blanket to greet me, I settled right in.
But let me rewind. You’re probably wondering why I’m here (not unlike the family) and it’s because I was too ill to stay with my home-stay-for-the-month family, so Bantu Ji, the Dragons Varanasi Director invited me into his home for a night. Somewhere between running his delicious restaurant and bossing around all of Assi Ghat, Bantu forgot to relay this information to his wife. I didn’t know this until the next morning that she wasn’t expecting me. When I thanked her for her hospitality on such short notice, she said “Short notice? More like no notice,” with a smile.
All throughout these past few weeks we’ve spent in India, we’ve been treated with nothing but kindness, and welcomed into so many families and tight-knit communities. I feel so grateful to be in such an amazing country with amazing people. Hopefully our group will bring back some of this welcoming energy back to North America, because we sure could use some more of it right about now.