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March

March is not an easy month for me. I cannot tell you why. I am not sure. Maybe an astrologer could point to the configuration of celestial bodies and explain how this or that planet rising in tandem with whichever moon moving into a house of something else has caused March to perpetually just kinda suck a little bit. Maybe I’ve cemented the idea in my head that March is difficult, so I unconsciously make it that way for myself. Whatever the cause, March is often suboptimal, and this year has been no exception.

 

The past two weeks have hosted some bike troubles, some tough goodbyes, some disappointing cancellations, some “Delhi Belly,” and a fair amount of anxiety about the general state of the world, travel, and home. And I know that I am not alone this year in my own personal March Madness. As Universities cancel classroom lectures in favor of zoom video conferences, I see my friends posting about their frustration, angst, and uncertainty. The New York Times “Breaking News Updates” concisely share how the economy has begun to dip, and I hear comments about school tuitions and student debts tossed around.

 

Yet, amidst the panic and the March of it all, I somehow feel impossibly optimistic. Somehow, I am sanguine. And often, just as this sense of positivity starts to fade or gets trumped by spirals of consternation, it is buoyed back up by the decency of others. This month, more than any other thus far on Bridge Year, I have begun to take note of the everyday kindnesses that take place all around me. The humanity and consideration that allow people to live just a little bit easier.

 

The following are some such instances:

 

  • Devilal, the farmer who sells his organic produce at Fateh Sagar Lake every morning, gave me a bundle of fresh mint for free so that I could make tea.
  • The security guard and cashier at the grocery store in Fateh Pura who help me navigate Hindi labels and encourage me to practice my language skills.
  • My homestay sister checking on me every couple hours to see how I am feeling and asking if I have a fever.
  • The Bike Walla by Mr. Ved’s Salon who–when my tire exploded open like a Christmas popper after he filled it–drove his scootie all the way to Hathi Pol to get a new tube (price: 300 rs.), then only charged me for the tire pump up (5 rs.).
  • The same Bike Walla who spent 30+ minutes fixing my very broken brakes, then only charged me for a brake tightening (which should take 3 minutes).
  • PK at Thali who reminds the Roti Walla that I cannot eat wheat, and makes sure my plate is always heaped with rice.
  • Pia asking me every day how my evening and morning were, and giving her endless support as she listens to my most minute problems.
  • The fruit seller outside my NGO who always gives me a fair price on the first go, skipping the haggling and foreigner tax.
  • Ravi at my NGO who gently corrects my Hindi mistakes and always boosts my self esteem.
  • The nurse in the Emergency Ward who, seeing my mounting nervousness at the prospect of a blood test, took the time to offer a smile and promise me that I would be “absolutely fine.”
  • Prakash Ji coming to the ticket counter at the Ropeway to be sure Pia, Dani, Anna, and I would not be scammed.
  • My Hindustani vocal teacher who occasionally works themes from Star Wars, Frere Jacques, or Jingle Bells into the harmonium interludes of songs, never failing to make me smile.

 

These are merely a few examples of an ever present decency and kindness that turn a March day into a Spring day, and keep me looking forward to tomorrow.