Seeking Solitude

In India, a crowded country with a population that tops one billion people, it is almost impossible to find alone time. This is hard for me, because I love solitude. Activities that I typically think of as being “me” activities, like wandering around Philadelphia by myself, just don’t translate to Indian cities. The one time I spent ten minutes walking alone in Jaipur, I was approached on two occasions by men who wanted me to join the gem trade and make “big money!” In general, I don’t think meandering around cities is something that one does in India. When Sudi, Eliana, and I were walking around Jaipur on a Saturday (because it was the Sabbath when Eliana cannot use cars and autorickshaws), we were approached by lots of confused rickshaw drivers who did not understand why we were walking. Their confusion made some sense to me, since most parts of the cities I’ve visited so far are not pedestrian friendly. Sidewalks are nonexistent and crossing the street is a gauntlet of epic proportions. Actually, now that I think of it, crossing the street here reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George is trying to maneuver his Pac Man arcade game across a busy Manhattan street. The only difference being that if George had pulled that move in Delhi, he likely would have died. The only thing an Indian driver will stop for is a cow. 

Anyway, back to the main point of this blog, which is that I have really been wanting some time by myself to float around in a pool of me. It is impossible to find this kind of space in the Educate Girls office, since I don’t have my own cubicle. It is also difficult to find this kind of space at the guesthouse where we live because we share the house with our co-workers. At the guesthouse, the only time I occasionally get to be alone is when I’m doing laundry. Consequently, for the first time ever, I love doing laundry! I like being out on the terrace with my soap and bucket. It’s quiet without fans and people and there is usually a nice breeze and a beautiful sunset. Sometimes, one of the chef’s sons will bring me a cup of Chai and I’ll take a break from scrubbing and watch the farmers work in their fields. Watching the farmers reminds me of helping my grandfather plant vegetables and pick fruit. In those moments, I’m filled with an overwhelming desire to quit my internship and join the farmers under the hot sun and open sky.

Laundry time was my only alone time until yesterday, when Eliana and Sudi headed off to Mount Abu. I stayed behind at the guesthouse, which was empty because everyone was in the field or at home. I had time to read and write and to spread myself out in the now empty space. It was a wonderful opportunity to stretch my soul. I love India. I love how it invaded every sense from the moment I stepped out of the Delhi airport. It’s exciting and different. But with that excitement comes the feeling that I need to constantly be on guard in my own little Rajasthani fort. When I’m alone, I get some much needed time to relax.  

-Ali

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About alicooperponte