Everyone who comes to India is struck by the people of this country. I think you can’t ever come here and not be impacted by the kindness, the welcome, the smiles, the waves, the chats people want to engage you in in the street, the hospitality you’ll be offered. One of the things I’ve found is that those who extend the warmest welcomes can be those who are most likely to suffer when a crisis hits.
Maybe travelling in our van gave us a different perspective, but we were stopped by people on highways to be offered chai, we were gifted vegetables and fruit, given parking spaces and shelter. We parked up on mountaintops and in truck stops and wherever we were we were treated with kindness. We found people from all walks of life, all backgrounds and religions wanting a chat or a selfie, trying to build connection. And isn’t connection what makes the world go round – well that and love, right? But while that’s all very worthy, people also need food and money and access to medical care, and when the pandemic hit, it was many of these people I was concerned about, the people without as much access to money or food. The daily wage workers who live only on what they earn. The people who could wipe out a whole family if they get sick, because of their income and because of their living conditions.
And so we set up our fundraiser…. this is a mishmash of randomly grabbed images, and randomly grabbed moments – each special to us in their own way, but it’s a small tribute to all the wonderful people we’ve met in India who’ve extended kindness our way over our many years of Indian adventures…. We thank you, and we hope that our efforts are a tiny drop in the ocean towards helping you all stay well…
This is for:
all the people who’ve asked for pictures, who’ve giggled and smiled, and raised a phone to grab a photo too – we love your efforts to connect with us and the opportunity it gives us all to widen our perspectives on life…
To the lady who made me a paste from leaves when I’d injured my foot coming off my scooter.
And the Mama of boys who asked if she could practice her mhendi designs on the girls, and all she wanted was me to whatsap some pictures to her.
To the people who touch our hair or arms or shake hands or peer into our van we wish our language skills were better because your curiosity about us is mirrored by our own about you.
I think of the ladies who lovingly put flowers in my girls hair…
To the people who’ve hugged or kissed us, dressed us up or made us dance in the street – my heart breaks that in a post-covid world we might not experience these incredible moments of beautiful joy
To all the hundreds, or thousands of vendors on the streets of India that we’ve bought street snacks, or vegetables, or chai, or flowers from – I hope you’re safe. I hope you’re surviving
To the people who’ve asked us to hold your babies or sit with your children – what trust you placed in strangers – how you believed we had good hearts – we saw your hearts in that faith, and we hope your precious babies are all safe
To the mountain hitch hikers who trusted the strange foreign family in their funny VW van – thank you for the honour of sharing your journey – I hope your remote locations are beyond the reach of this disease
To the people who’ve held and hugged and pinched the cheeks of my babies, I hope you’re hugging your own babies tight
To the people who make our clothes, I hope the big corporations are paying up – I pledge to continue to put pressure on them to pay your wages.
The those whose livelihood depends on people travelling – I think of you and hope you’re OK in these days where no one can go anywhere.
To the people all over India we’ve left photos with – we remember you, and your kindness, and we hope somewhere in the cycle of the universe it’s coming back to you
To the hundreds of people who’ve gifted us with small acts of kindness along our way, we will never forget the goodness of your hearts
To the people who’ve shared your traditions with us, welcomed us to join in, and even pushed the smallest one of us to the front for the best view – you have enriched our lives more than you can know. Please stay safe and wait until this has passed.
All the people who’ve engaged with my kids; played with them, kept an eye out for them, been silly with them and made them laugh – I thank you for sharing your time and your energy with them. I hope that positive energy is keeping you in good health.
All the people who’ve said hello and stopped for a chat or given us a huge friendly wave as we went by – we saw you too, and your smiles and waves brightened our days
To the people who keep the streets clean, and those who deliver good. To the ones who sell everyday items in those streets, and who keep us in beauty. We know your lives are a precarious balance right now and we hope you can keep safe
To those who have given us blessings, or introduced us to your culture – we are better people for having experienced this diversity and for experiencing different ways to worship and to live. Blessings aren’t enough to send back to you right now…
The people who shared food with us are some of the most charming – they introduced us to new tastes and favourites which have become staples in our lives, both in India and when we’re other places. What a gift they gave us.
We think of the teachers on their Christmas trip out in Kolkata; the shopkeeper who gave the kids some extra sweets; they boy proudly showing us his pigeon; the kids on stilts who giggled non stop when they tried to get us to try too; the chai and snack vendors in every city we’ve visited; the village chiefs who welcomed us into their meeting, AND fed us; the dhobi wallahs and the stall holders; the fishermen on the beach; the kids riding to school, and the families as enthralled by the Taj Mahal as us.
But most of all, we think of, and hope for the health and safety of every single person who has smiled, or taken a moment of their day to brighten ours. You have done that, day after day after day.
Your smiles and kindness are what makes India the place it is – it’s something you just don’t find everywhere.
We can’t thank our friends and family, and their friends and family – and complete strangers from around the world enough for contributing to help the covid situation here in India. We know what we have raised is a mere drop in the ocean of what India needs, but just as each and every one of these incredible smiles has brightened our days so do your thoughts and your donations.
Thank you all – and thank you India, xxx