My Stars

Something about being in the mountains makes you feel closer to heaven. It’s like every night the stars come out just to speak to you in their silent star language. I’ve been doing a lot of silent talking recently. Which means love-listening. I went to this beautiful small church in Nainital yesterday- St. Francis Church of something. And I was thinking about Sacred Heart of Jesus. I think I will steal some of Eileen’s pictures because my camera is not functional at the moment. Mmm…Nainital. I went there for the second time yesterday and I feel so local. After having lived in the “real” mountains, Nainital is a little less appealing haha. But I ate pani-puri and kulfi and went boating…so life is good. I love the other interns here. We laugh a lot- non-stop. And my Hindi is improving at such a rapid pace. I feel a great sense of belonging here especially because I have been asked the quintessential question more than once, “Pahadi?” As in, do you walk the mountain trails, live the culture, speak the dialect…do you eat Kumaoni chutney made of apricots, can you ride the bus from Haldwani to Odakhan? And I just smile because we both know the answer is yes.

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I’ve started working on creating a hydrogeology training program/manual for villagers and children. This will have everything about groundwater systems, aquifers, rock types, spring types, contamination pathways, water quality monitoring, etc. (as specific to the Himalayan region as can be) and would allow CHIRAG to conduct more formalized trainings in the villages with key resource people (especially women). It’s ambitious but here is the reasoning behind it. When villagers are empowered with the technical knowledge about their own water systems right down to the porosity of the stone that forms the aquifer, then they also take a greater responsibility for their water source. And having lived with the same water source for decades, they already intrinsically know so much about that source from its depth to its catchment area to its flow cycle. It’s amazing because then they become the experts- barefoot himalayan hydrogeologists. This concept is extremely appealing to me because there are enough NGOs in the Himalayas doing spring recharge work and often times the main users- the villages- are sidelined. The other aspect of this is creating a curriculum for the children. The study of groundwater should be included in the education of children here in this region (because it’s the main source of water and lifestyles are built around it) and many times it’s ignored. Considering this, we have a plan to integrate this into the curriculum of private and government schools in the area.

Much love to all- the pictures didn’t upload the first time around 🙂

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About Aardra Rajendran

I'm a recent Bioengineering graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. I will be headed to Chennai, India over this next year to conduct public health work as a Fulbright Student Research Fellow. My interests include Eastern spirituality, medicine and contemporary approaches to healing, hiking, being part-lion/part-owl, and watching the stars at night. Peace.