“Drinking chai… punctuates our day with precious and refreshing pauses, whether it is after a satisfying meal or when taking a much-needed break in our busy schedule”-Mutsuko Tokunaga
Before I came to India, I knew I was going to be consuming a fair amount of chai, but I didn’t know what it really meant to take chai. There is no proper equivalent for it in the United States, but I highly recommend to anyone reading this to start taking chai wherever you are. From what I have experienced so far, “taking chai” is a way to develop the relationships/community you live in and to take time from your day to appreciate the people you are with and where you are. Chai time is a conscious effort to be mindful and connect. It usually comes extremely sweet and hot in small cups (about 2 to 3 oz); however, if you are going to be talking with someone for a while, it’ll be in a larger, bottomless container. On average, I take chai an average of 3 times a day, Monday-Saturday, which happens to also be my workweek.
(Note: I am back to 100% health. No hasty conclusions, but it had to be chai that made me better.)
This past Sunday I went with Sarah, the ProWorld coordinator, and Mandira, another intern, to visit two incredible sites with rich history. The first was Kumbhalgarh. Kumbhalgarh was a Mewar fortress that was active until the late 19th century. Their major claim to fame is that the wall is the second-longest continuous wall after the Great Wall of China. The fort itself is an incredible tribute to the Mewar kingdom and the architecture of the time. All around the fort and the surrounding area are temples (Wikipedia claims 360 within the fort, but I can neither confirm or deny this)
Speaking of temples, the next site we went to was Ranakpur, a massive Jain temple built in the 15th century. Ranakpur is a square-shaped temple, and inside, there are hundreds of marble pillars with intricate designs carved into each and every one of them. It was slightly overwhelming because there was something to look at in every direction. Every pillar was carved from floor to ceiling, and every ceiling and door was carved as well. Before leaving, we were blessed and wished a happy life by a couple of the monks there, who Sarah knew from previous trips there.
Then on Monday, it was back to work. I’ve begun to gain a stronger sense of what my position will be like at JJVS. My primary responsibility will be to develop a proposal for the microfinance program that has experienced enormous success for the 5 years it has been running and then locate potential funding agencies to send the proposal to. Beyond that, I will spend some time in the field talking with some of the borrowers in the program, and putting in some time in at the school Jagran runs as well.
If you’re interested in learning more about the organization, their website is ( here ). I forgot to mention the name stands for People’s Awakening and Development Society. They have got an incredible relationship with everyone in the villages they work in due to many of them are from these villages, and as a result, have had great success with their programs through this strong presence in the community. Jagran is very intentional about ensuring there is significant community buy-in for their programs and a sharing of responsibilities, which allows them to achieve a strong level of sustainability.
Now, monsoon season seems to be on it’s way out and sunny days are ahead. I assume this means there will be even more chai to be had now, which I’m okay with.