In the Eye of the Storm

One… two… Is this thing on?

Three months since our last blog post… And to think I had such good intentions of diligently posting, chronicling our experience as we enter the development field. I saw myself tracking the stirrings of my global consciousness, following the transformations of my worldview as it happened in real time.

But here we are, three months later, and the page is still blank. The draft folder is empty.

Let’s catch up!

Yes, we’re in rural India right now.

It’s been two months and a half since we’ve arrived at the Gram Vikas campus; a lifetime, as the cliché goes. In retrospect, I don’t know very well what I expected out of this, but it’s fair to say I had no concept of what life would be like working for an NGO in rural Odisha. Before I came here, I was sitting in a little brick house in my mind, feeling the sturdiness of the walls I built for myself, firmly rooted in certainty. There, I planned how I would catch the sail winds, with a sense for manifest destiny.

Then a tornado came, smashed the house like a fist, and carried me away to another continent.

What it means in practical terms, I have yet to fully articulate, or even admit to myself. Once the shock of transplanting my life to India has passed, there remains the sense of a deep unease with the world, like the memory of an earthquake. Something about the world has changed, in a way profound and invisible. The surface remains untouched, but a great force stirs my mind in new directions. The mountain appears immobile still, but its depths have already given birth to relentless tremors. The fissures are cracking their way up to the surface.

Which way this will take me, no one knows.

I wish I could express my feelings in more concrete terms, but the more precise I try to be, the closer I stick to the skin of things. The bones of my experience lie deep within a well that I cannot explore with the full light of my consciousness.

But when I come up for air from the depths of this experience, this is what I see around me:

I see a peaceful campus at the fringe of rural Odisha, teeming with life and colors.

I see new friends in distant lands, with which I work, eat, laugh, commiserate, and explore this new life.

I see people from an ancient culture, yearning for the same as me, always the same: dignity, hope, respect.

I see luminous chaos and mud-stained joy in the labyrinths of the city.

I see the mist-hugged hills in the morning, and the saree-clad women gathering firewood, smiling and greeting me on my runs.

I see myself, most of all: teeth clenched, eyes wide, grinning at the world.

About Daniel Roy

Daniel is a writer, backpack foodie, slow traveler, and endurance runner. He is the author of the upcoming book, "The Way of Slow Travel: A Hands-On Guide to the Best Travel of Your Life."

One comment

  1. Fascinating stuff! I’m a little envious. Having returned from 2.5 years of expatriation in Chile, I now find myself yearning for the kind of more extreme cultural shock that Asian countries bring (with India at the top of the list).

    Who knows, we might run into each other there in the years to come… 🙂


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