I have been home for a few days now and yes, to answer everyone’s question, jetlag kicked my butt. My brain has felt a bit scrambled and all I can think is, “I’m getting old!”
That didn’t keep me from feeling nostalgic for India, though. I left with the same feeling I had after my last trip: a bit of a tug at my heart, longing for that same sense of warmth and closeness that comes so easily with the Indian people. Again, asking the same questions to myself, “Who will know if something happened to me?” “Why do I work so hard and spend so little time cultivating relationships with friends and family that I love so dearly?” “What has happened to us in this modern day when we pride ourselves in being so technologically advanced? Where our main means of connecting are through social media and phone texting? And what can I do to change this?”
I don’t have answers right now, perhaps because I am still trying to get my bearings. One big memo to myself for my next trip back: Stay longer in India, at least long enough to get over the jetlag while I am there before getting hit with nostalgia so soon after being home!
Aside from my personal bemoaning, I have had a lot of time to think about my trip. Again, I had left with many intentions to blog daily but got swamped with teaching, training, and treating, mixed in with Ujwala’s almost daily meals celebrating Ganpati. This trip was definitely different from my last trip in the sense that I felt when I reached India, I was coming back home. I knew better what was expected of me and whom I would be meeting.
My goals were different, too. In the last year, I had been working hard to pull together the foundations for Humanitarian Acupuncture Project (HAP). This trip served as the glue to finally complete the details to forge the bond between HAP and the community organization.
On my last trip I fell in love with the Indian community health organization and made up my mind that I would do what I could to help even though I couldn’t physically be there as a volunteer on a daily basis. People have asked me many times, “Why are you doing this?–and why this particular country and this local organization?” It is too much of a cliche to say “I want world peace”? I will list below the strengths that I observed working with community acupuncturists.
- Our collaborators are meticulous and passionate about the quality of the care that is given in the clinics. I am certain that without their leadership, the clinics would flounder. I was again impressed with this vision for building a viable model for humanitarian work that is self sufficient and effective.
- The team that has come together, consisting of local people, is remarkable in their desire and commitment to social work. Not only do they want to help the people, but their interest in furthering their skills by observing foreign, seasoned acupuncturists and resuming studies, is apparent in their work.
- As depressed communities, the slums of India are unique. I have never felt threatened once walking down the streets on my own. The people there are gentle and of usual happy disposition. Such a remarkable difference from even the ghettos here in the U.S.! This is important for me to understand as part of HAP’s mission is to educate prospective volunteers from the States and to know that they will be safe.
- On a final note, I feel that it is our professional and personal responsibility, once we have reached a certain level of comfort, to give back to the people who are not as fortunate. This project is the best of both worlds in that I am able to utilize my skills in TCM, and on a global scale. The experience of helping people in such an unbiased way is bliss beyond verbal expression. Also, I feel that what we can offer here is something truly lasting and beautiful in its solid growth and development. And certainly a culmination of many years of hard work and struggle to understand a profession that is valuable in the daily lives we can touch.
As the Indians say, Namaste….