Through the course of each day, I develop a list of items that the team medical staff needs…or individual team members require. This usually means an adventure into the local markets to acquire theses treasures and I love the challenge scouring the nooks and crannies to find them.
Delhi; a continent I had never been to before…and a culture I had never experienced. As I had imagined, the streets of Faridabad, (the actual suburb of New Delhi where we are located.), are a combination of broad avenues and a twisted labyrinth of ancient dusty alleys.
Tuk Tuks, three wheeled motorized taxis crammed with upwards of seven people, scooters, bicycles, cars, cargo trucks and pedestrians all weave a tapestry of high speed chicken in either lane horns blaring.
The orange red sun casts a crimson Maxfield Parrish glow on the market walls as I explore them.
Amongst the teaming knotted humanity, it would be easy to take on a mantle of sadness after witnessing such poverty and heartbreaking tragedy on the crowded streets. Missing limbs, eyes, and the occasional cities of tents….but there is such a surprising deep-seated joy in the eyes of the Indian people. Their smiles radiate a humble happiness that seems to transcend all manner of adversity.
Cement and brick stacked buildings stacked haphazardly at odd angles right next to structures of beautiful architectural beauty generate a sense of historical encampment….that humans have lived on these sacred plains for tens of thousands of years.
The gentle sideways bob of the Indian head during conversation is endearing. Since I am not currently fluent in any foreign language, I depend on mannerisms, gestures and sign language to try to explain what I am looking for and why I am looking for it. The differences between cultural mannerisms are vast and I am sure that some of my gyrations are quite humorous to the locals as I am explaining my situation. Fortunately, Gaurav Ahuja our Rotary contact and past president has been at my side most of the time to assist in translation.
As I walk through the endless shops in search of elusive items, I notice how reflective the people can be. If I imagine I am too busy or in too much of a hurry to make eye contact the locals do not see me at all….two travelers that pass in proximity but pass unseen. However, a smile, a wink, a nod, or a verbal pleasantry given….opens a door of beautiful communication.
Every situation, every conversation, really every moment on the vibrant streets is a personal test of one’s patience….one’s personal commitment to a positive cooperative attitude.
Chris Brannan, Quartermaster