Jaipur

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Turbulence 

As I boarded the plane, I began to realise that this was not going to be like my other flights. My routine had been undisturbed until now. I  would strap myself into my seat, strap my travel pillow around my neck, kick off my shoes, and slip on my eye mask. Not this time. I approached my seat to find that it had already been occupied by a flock of friends video calling social circles and taking selfies. I offered to swap seats with the guy that was strapped into mine, and stepped over a small child to find my new thrown. As I began to carry out my onboard ritual, I observed the passengers playing a game of what could only be described as musical chairs. It was as though I had taking the wrong departure gate and instead ended up down the furniture aisle in Ikea. I slowly squeezed and eased a couple of foam earplugs deeper into my ears than usual. As the plane was taking off, the call buttons lit up like the Blackpool tower with people requesting drinks and snacks whilst others continued to FaceTime their friends and family. It was as though the Cabin Crew had experienced this turbulence before, and coped with it by merely ignoring the chaos. Little did I know that this experience was somewhat of an introduction to what was ahead…

Freedom

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I gingerly walked through the arrival gates and was met by a gentleman who displayed my name on one of those plaques. You know you’ve made it when you see your name on one of those! It was the closest thing to having my name in lights and I was more than happy with that!

I climbed into the van and we took a 20 minute drive to a destination that I only assumed could be the school. Little communication was had due to the fact that the driver was not English, and I was far from fluent in Hindi. The only words that we both knew were ‘Neerja Modi’, and that offered me enough comfort seeing that that was the only reason that I was here in Jaipur; to work as a Musical Director and Performing Arts Teacher at the Neerja Modi School.

As we approached the iron gates, two security guards loosened the bolt and signaled us through. How regal I thought, as I gestured a gentle wave whilst passing the men in black.  The grounds were grand. Fields of green were lit up with a warm glow from the pole lights that lined the pathways. The hostel stood strong opposite the green and I was taken up a flight of stares towards C-4, the room that would become my home for the next month.

I unlocked the door and stepped onto the marble flooring and into my new abode. It was large and spacious; boasting both a double bed and a single, as well as a fridge, television, wardrobe, and all those other pieces of furniture you expect to find in a hotel stay. The chef followed behind with a selection on Indian tapas for me to enjoy after my travels, and I suddenly felt a feeling of comfort and safety.

I boiled the kettle and made myself a cup of tea…English of course, and I made my way downstairs in order to enjoy my way overdue evening cigarette, only to be denied access to the outdoors…a.k.a freedom.  The security guard stood tall against the double doors and merely shook his head. I stomped upstairs and began to feel a burning sensation from within…and this was not due to the Indian cuisine.

I felt complete frustration! I’m not having this again! I traveled here in order to feel liberated and free; not to be governed by others to when I can and can’t leave the guarded gates?! I suddenly felt trapped, and my comfort quickly turned to consternation….My room ‘C-4’ suddenly felt like Cell 4.
I munched on my chapati and rested my head before my morning wake up at 8 a.m.
Maybe I was overreacting as usual. I have free transport, free food, free cleaning and laundry….A new day would put all this into perspective.

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Mirrors

The next day, I headed out to a local shopping centre, and joined by a fellow international teacher.  His name was Michael…and at that point, that was all I knew of him.  During the journey, all he was doing was shouting and moaning, cursing and talking negatively about where we were. I could feel my positive energy becoming diluted and I slowly felt myself become agitated, and frustrated. I quickly began to mirror his energy and emotions and before I knew it, I was joining him in running around the shops, stressing and sweating, and even echoing his obscenities.  I had become the person that I sympathised when I first got into the car. I couldn’t understand this overwhelming frustration which completely possessed him. I could not relate to him.  Over the course of the next few weeks, I would slowly begin to realise that our experiences were very relatable after all.

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The Tourist

That weekend I played tourist and decided to venture to Agra and Delhi.  I boarded the sleeper train at 4 a.m on Saturday morning.  I was feeling exhausted, nervous and excited.  This is the place, the country, where I have felt the most isolated, alienated and…different.
It is a complete culture shock.

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As I strolled around the beauty that is the Taj Mahal, I felt nothing but angst. Everything felt completely rushed. With little to no one understanding the concept of personal space, I strode around one of the seven wonders of the world, whilst the sun continued beating down on me, and rather than feeling wonder, I felt angst.  That word again… angst; the feeling of deep anxiety or dread.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there. What an unusual feeling to have whilst witnessing such wonder?! I needed to go…and besides, I had a coach to Delhi to catch.

I was dropped off by a rickshaw on the corner of a highway.  A bus was pulled up on the side of the hard shoulder. The windows were removed, and the name of the travel company painted on the side had worn away like the fabric on the interior seats. I know I sound somewhat snobbish, but I more than appreciated the electrical hand-fans that were taped to the front of the seats. They looked after their customers, I could sense this.  Before I could sense anything else, I was lifted up onto the bus as it drove off into the sunset…40 minutes before it was due to leave. Please, please PLEASE be going to Delhi.

The Unspoken Game

Do you reckon that people react to attention differently depending on their inner self? For instance, two people walk down the street; person A and person B. Person A acknowledges stares and whispers from passersby as positive reactions, whilst person B views the whispers and stares as judgmental and negative opinions about them? Well I am person B, and India is not the best of places for these types of characters to be in. There is no escaping it, but even though you tell yourself that it’s simply due to your skin colour and aesthetic, you cant help but hear those whispering giggles become loud chants.

I felt like Person B during those bumpy and overwhelmingly uncomfortable 4 hours. A small child stood on her seat and looked back at me throughout the whole journey… I am still convinced that she did not blink once. Another child behind me began to pluck strands of hair from my head as her mother watched and giggled. She began platting it within her own hair, which was strangely somewhat of a relief for me, as I have heard of voodoo dolls being very popular over here in India. Passengers opposite would stare; fixated, for minutes without looking around. If you were to ever make eye contact with someone on the London Tube you would wince. Here, it is an unspoken game of who can out stare the other. I am yet to understand whether it is a control thing…you know, like how you are supposed to out stare a cat to show who is in control, or whether I am just a very odd looking man.

Delhi

I have heard many things about Delhi, most of them describing it as the city of culture and heritage. The only thing that I had inherited on my way here via the bus was a severe headache…and hair loss.

I was greeted by  a gentleman at the hotel who warned me of my room booking. He kindly informed me that I booked a very unpleasant room and that if I did not wish to stay here then he would understand. Still unsure about his motives? Over-honest or just over it in general.  The room was absolutely fine, which made me question my standards more than anything.

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Noise

That is the word that I would use to describe India. Noise. Everywhere you turn there is noise.  In most parts of the world a car horn is only ever used to signify danger, anger or panic.
Here it is used as a means of simple communication. There is never a moment where a horn, or a hundred, is heard, and never is there a moment where I have yet to dissociate this with danger, anger and panic. Stepping outside is an open call to experience these emotions, so much so that it creates hesitance in heading outside.
Alongside the beeps, whilst the drives ignore the speed limits and road lanes, they must also constantly dodge loose cows and care-free pedestrians plodding across the traffic at a leisurely pace.

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Noise. Eckhart Toll states that if you are visiting India, you should know how to meditate…

The overwhelming noise that flooded the streets of India caused my mind to flood with the same too; noise consisting of anxious thoughts, frustration, doubt, isolation, panic…you know, all the good stuff.  My mornings would consist of waking up looking for jobs, filtering my preferences, and filtering down this sense of freedom that I had previously been experiencing.

Meditate

We are motivated to be in the now; to live in the present. That bringing yourself back into the present is a form of meditation in itself.  Whilst I try my hardest to do just this, I am somewhat relying on the future in order to support my time during this present.  My worry grew when I realised that I did not have any future plans to use as bait in order to catch my drive hook line and sinker. It is as if  a countdown somewhat like a ticking bomb has appeared in front of me, and I am frantically searching for future opportunities in hopes of dismantling it before my time is up and it explodes.

Made (the Balinese healer) mentioned that I needed to invite more meditation practices within my life as this is something which I will be using within my career to help others.  He also said to let go and let flow in order for me to unlock my potential for this to occur.
I am finding it hard to let go. I’m finding it hard to meditate.

med·i·tate; to engage in contemplation or reflection.

Notice that it doesn’t say “to sit perfectly still with a straight back and your hands in Buddhi mudra and your mind perfectly still”? No. It’s simply about connecting with your true self and there are many ways to do this…I guess I am just yet to find mine.

Meditation is no different than anything else in life. So much of it is just about showing up and creating a practice, something that works for you. Something that you can continually improve upon (slowly).

I don’t believe that we have to follow any rules for meditation. In fact, I think that’s what holds so many people back from even attempting it; this thought of a rigid practice.

That weekend I booked myself a night stay in a hotel. I needed to remove myself from my current habitat where I was clearly storing some negative or unsettling vibrations.
After waiting the usual hour for the booked car to arrive, I bombed towards the pink city in hopes of serenity and freedom.
I sat around the pool, I listened to music, I did a couple of laps, and I zonked out in my lounger. I woke up after an hour or two and dragged myself to my hotel room where I ordered room service and binged on TV.

It. Was. Scrumptious.

As I woke, I felt so much better. Refreshed. Renewed. Revamped. “REJOICE!” So I made a list of things I needed in order to sustain this mental attitude…
I wrote a timetable for my days. Yes, I am that guy.

I continued to swim for half an hour every day…baby steps…well, baby breaststrokes.

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Imprisoned 

I’ve slowly started to realise that it is not just me who feels somewhat ‘imprisoned’ within Jaipur.
During my stay here, I have met some fascinating locals who I have spent some time with. One guy opened up about his life here in Jaipur, and how it is not just western visitors who feels like this.
Families live together for the majority of their lives here. If you want to go on a date, or have some…affection, then your only options is to go for a drive during the night and find a quiet place to park your car. If the police come? Give them the equivalent of £1 in order to keep them schtum. During one of our nights out on his motorbike, I noticed so many cars with gentlemen and ladies inside, enjoying some personal time together. Not sexually, but just…together; alone….free.
Along those quieter streets, I saw a different side of Jaipur. Other vehicles parked along the side roads are cafes on wheels serving fresh hot chia accompanied with a couple of plastic chairs. Locals head there to meet with friends, have a couple of chias whilst enjoying a smoke and just escaping for an hour or too. It was quiet…the air still filled with chaos, but now somewhat diluted and softened with the sound of laughter and nature.

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The Flannel

Day three of my mindfulness practice and I woke up late. I barely had time to shower, and as my breakfast was brought in by one of the staff, I grabbed half an omelette and minced up to the rehearsal room.  I made it on time, however I did not make time for my morning meditation.  I came up with this spiel in my head about needing my sleep and how that is meditation in itself, but I knew deep down that I was disappointed with myself.

I began to notice how my positive attitude had become somewhat diluted during the last few days.  I found myself upset over a lost face flannel; a simple white flannel which I bought especially for this trip, which had served me well up until its missing.   It was recently taken from my room along with the other flannels and towels, and its whereabouts is unknown, and for some reason, unimportant to others. I mean, did they not know that this was a flannel?! The missing flannel.   Over the next couple of days it became somewhat of an obsession of mine. Although it was a great flannel; one that is worthy of a five-star review online, I knew deep down, there was something more to this than just the face cloth.  The flannel was an object though, a visible object, so even though I was unable to pin-point the precise reasons for the change in my vibrations, I could put my finger on the flannel (or not in that fact), so used this as the soul purpose for my positive plummeting.

I have had trouble solving the flannel mystery due to a little something called language; and the gaping separation that this causes between my relationship with the staff and myself.   Not having the freedom to easily speak with others.   Not having the freedom to eat when I wish.   Not having the freedom to eat what I wish.   It is an accumulation of all these things which have caused me to panic.

That night I laid on my bed in the feotal position, lost in translation, and began to feel my freedom seizing up and disappearing. I started to feel angry and frustrated and limited. I could feel my frustration being felt by others and I hated this side of me being so transparent, but I couldn’t help but express it. I started to feel exhaustion and pain.  Pain in my head, pain in my positive outlook, and also…pain in my teeth.  It is no one’s fault. Nothing malicious.  Nothing more than geographical.  Yet I can’t help but feel out numbered. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I am the little fish in the big pond. Then again, I have been since I left for my travels; in every country.   I think this time, metaphorically speaking, I am a little fish in a big pond which happens to have an oil spill.  The oil represents the environment, and this environment has limited this little fish to swim freely.

Sliding Doors

I woke up and started my day on a more positive note, which slowly began to hit some minor keys; with the afternoon turning into a crescendo of orchestral screams…
I really began to dislike who I was becoming.   These ever more frequent run ins with Jekyll were becoming unnerving, and maybe it all in fact IS a test….a test which I am struggling with immensely.
I spent an hour talking to my sister on the phone. She just broke up from teaching for the summer term. It made me feel nostalgic, and I experienced a Gwyneth Paltrow ‘Sliding Doors’ moment…I too would have been signing off for my summer holidays, and I wondered how I would be feeling and how my journey of ‘self’ would have differed if I continued on that road.
Speaking to Jenny helped me to surface my emotions and thoughts; the ones that I discuss to myself.
Whilst silence is a great way of reflecting, I’ve realised that speaking is just as essential. My mind has become somewhat of a washing machine; churning these thoughts and emotions around and around.  The things is, if you don’t let the clothes out to air, or drain the water, the clothes begin to smell.  My thoughts needed airing.

I went and spent some time with Michael (the Irish teacher who I initially perceived as having a negative outlook).  We did some moaning together.   I felt less isolated and more human. Similar moans and groans were met with simultaneous laughter; reliving frustrating situations and relatable woes.  Despite the conversations being conceived by negative emotions, I felt that it birthed some positivity into my evening.  We are allowed to moan.  We can sometimes feel deflated or disheartened; we are human!  I believe that moaning does not void gratitude or attract negative vibrations if it is done from time to time in order to offload and move forward.  I’ve been so worried about a negative thought or feeling passing my mind in fear of it being heard or felt by the universe and in return, it gifting me with a sack of shit.

I reflected on my time back in Bali and the person that I was.  Carefree, cage-free, positive, and reflective.  Of course I was all those things…who wouldn’t be if placed in paradise without any constrictions or commitments?  Loose shirts, loose plans, loose commitments; nothing was constricting my freedom.  The biggest challenge now is sustaining that person within these situations that bare more resemblance to my life back at home.  I have gone from complete freedom to living within a gated school ground with limited schedules, limited menus, limited curfews and limited social circles.  It is the complete opposite to where I started.  Perhaps I will find my middle ground once starting my next chapter. Perhaps the next chapter will be the glass slipper that is the perfect fit.

Schedule

The day four of my meditation did not occur, nor did the swimming each night.  The more I left it, the more it felt like a chore, and the more that I ignored the chores, they became overwhelming and intimidating tasks.  I began to think that my meditation schedule had caused me to feel everything but mindful.  Only now when looking back, I realised what caused me to fear these sessions….one word; schedule.   I created a tight day-to-day schedule from the hour of waking to the hour of sleeping.  I sculpted each day in order to create a masterpiece of mindfulness; carving in fixed hours for meditation, swimming, and even ‘relaxation’ (4-5pm).   I discussed at the beginning of this journey how meditation can sometimes be off-putting due to people’s perception of it being a rigid practice.  That is correct.  Perhaps the practices which I was doing were not entirely rigid, but the authoritative and limited freedom which I allowed myself to carry out these practices were completely rigid. I allocated time for me to feel mindful, and when I missed that precise time, it was as though as certified myself as a failure for that day; adding more pressure to ‘succeed’ on the next.  Ridiculous right?? ‘Rigidculous‘.

White Flag

One thing that I did make time for were the frequent visits that I would be making to the dentist.  I had started to suffer with tooth ache.  I automatically assumed that this was due to my anxiety and how my jaw turns into an industrial pepper mill when under difficult situations.  I decided to pop along to the dentist with a colleague of mine who was already receiving work there.  I sat in that reclining chair and as they discussed my fate in Hindi, I wondered if he would give me a quick descale and polish before sending my on my merry way.

Two root canals, two crowns, one new filling…and a partridge in a pear tree. Obviously many people would consider this as a relief. Finding themselves needing this sort of dentist work whilst being in India.  I did not.  I immediately started to panic and my health, my finances, and my repercussions if I did not go ahead with the procedures.  I rudely stomped out of the clinic and purchased a couple of antibiotics from the pharmacy shack across the road.

I was tired.  I was in pain.  I was fed up, and I felt bloody isolated.  Phones are brilliant things; they can make someone who is thousands of miles away, seem like they are right next to you.  But they are not.  They are on the phone.  And in this instance, that illusion did not work to its full capacity.

I was battling with my job here.  I was battling with my negative thoughts and ego.  I was battling with this tooth pain.  I was battling against myself, and in result, causing a war.  I was suffering from severe headaches, shakes, toothache, stress, sickness and insomnia.  I remembered how our negative thinking can affect our immune system.  How feeling negative can cause our bodies to shut down and fail at fighting off infections.  I had to surrender to the pain rather than battle with it, and just accept that this was a fight that I was not going to win alone.

I went back to the dentist, waving my white flag, and agreed to all the treatments that he had suggested.  As soon as I did this, I felt support.  I saw Dr. Vishnu Soni there on the battlefield with me; taking the front line.  I took a sigh of relief and stood back from this battle. This was one that would be conquered for me.

Focus

During the next few days, I kept looking up to the sky and waiting for that ‘sack of shit’ to come crashing down.  It did not come.  I started to view negative thoughts in a different way.  I have lost count of the amount of self-help books or audios which have told me to continue to just think positive thoughts.  It is such an easy thing to say, but such a responsibility and pressure to adhere to within everyday life.  I have started to read between the lines of this mantra, and began to put my own own view on it, seeing as this is after all ‘self’ help.  I have decided negative thought processes are natural. You can not run from them. It is, however, how you deal with them which paves the road traveled.

Are we supposed to feel positive when being diagnosed with a incurable disease?  If we have just been heart-broken or lost a loved one?  What if we just failed the most amazing exam of your study?  Our first reaction is not going to be something positive where you automatically flick on that silver lining mindset and go out dancing.  That would make us robotic and emotionless, surely?  I think the word that we must really allow ourselves to adopt and practice is ‘focus‘.

For someone that never experience sadness or negativity, how are they to identify or experience happiness?  Like Yin and Yang as explained in my previous journey, negative and positive come together; they work together.  They work together in order to power-up our lives just like any electronic device.

So ‘focus‘.  That is the word that I believe we should use as our mantra.  Because, whether we experience these natural emotions linked to either positive or negative feelings, if we keep focused, we will therefore have clarity during these times, rather than allowing for these emotions to consume us.

We are going to feel sadness, we are going to feel exhilaration.  Both are needed in order to appreciate and understand the other, and for us to feel alive.  It is the ego, which I have recently began to understand, which influences us to take the emotions and to invest in them with fear, arrogance, insecurity and hate.  It is about acknowledging the feelings we face and not letting them consume or distract us from our focus; and our focus?  To be true to ourselves.

Self-Worth

During my third week at Neerja Modi, I was asked to complete my invoice for the work that I was completing out here.  Whilst reviewing my contract and my responsibilities, I realised that I was in fact working for three weeks longer than I was initially hired for.  I inquired to whether I would be paid for these additional three weeks but was informed that this was not in their budget.   The company had a budget that they had to adhere to, and they had to support themselves and their budget; their worth.  I began to question my own worth, and decide whether I was to continue working the additional three weeks for free, or whether I would work up until the date I was paid for and move on.  I battled with so many thoughts; so many emotions.  My automatic reaction was to accept this miscommunication as a mistake of my own, and continue to work the additional three weeks so that I would not be letting others down.  I then began to think about myself; the journey that I have been on and the reasons for this journey of mine.  This journey was to find myself, my self-worth, my self-belief, and my inner strength.  If I stayed for those extra three weeks, I might not of been letting the staff down, but I would be letting myself down.  I would be considering the work and skills that I have as unimportant or undervalued.  I began to question my self-belief and self-worth; something that I had only recently been acquainted with.  I could not afford to stay those extra three weeks, not because I could not afford to not get paid, but because I could not afford to lose my self-believe and worth.  This was not my ego talking; telling myself that I was worth more than this.  This was me, telling myself that I have worth, period.

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Positive. 

Once I informed the school of my decision, I felt such a weight off my shoulders.  I realised that I was not jeopardising my position or my project which I was set out to do, and that I would still be here to complete it with the same amount of time that I would have had if I stayed for the extra time- they were closing for a week of celebrations, and this  allowed me to celebrate the decision that I had made.  I woke up that morning and felt that bounce back in my step.  I smiled and felt positive- positive about my work here and positive about my self-worth. I spent that morning in the dentist with my new friend before heading out for an ice-cream and spending the evening at the cinema.  It was a good day, and I felt positive

I am a positive person (excuse the pun).  I do not feel that allowing yourself to accept situations as negative or upsetting as defeat or weakness.  I accept them as part of the journey.  One thing that I did lose sight of however was my focus.  I forgot the reason for why I was travelling and what I set out to find.  Thanks to these testing situations, I was able to remind myself of my focus, and with that, use these negatives to bring back the positivesWhen keeping your focus, they can work together.

I feel recharged, and due to this experience, I now understand the power and purpose of both.

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“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”
–Buddha

Home Run

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The last week was for me and the children.  I set out to Jaipur to create a live adaption of ‘The Greatest Showman’, and I dedicated the last of my days to ensure that I would give them, not just the greatest show, but the greatest experience.

The last of my days at Neerja Modi consisted of early mornings met with very late nights; striving to create something concrete from a visual concept in my mind. With the help of google translate, I was able to slowly see my ideas coming to life.

I could feel my body experiencing the same reaction to when I began reaching the final mile of the London Marathon back in 2016.  Prior to this ‘home run’, you are almost working in fight mode; somewhat dissociating your mental state with your physical. During the last hurdle, you subconsciously begin to return back to the state of ‘one’; where your mind and body listen to one another and work with one another.  Your physical state reconnects with your mind, telling the mind that it is tired.  Your mind, which up to this point, had no idea what the physical state was going through, as it was preoccupied itself.  Once the mind and body become in sync again, you start to feel your battery draining.  Like we do with our mobile phones, we try to prolong our battery life as much as possible; turning down the brightness, closing all the unneeded apps, and putting it into flight mode.  Eventually, we must accept the fact that turning it off, plugging it in, and leaving it to charge, is the only way to ensure a fully functioning tool.  I could feel myself, hear myself and see myself living on the last bar of my battery.

Spectacular

The night before the shows, I was consumed with nerves and frustration.  I knew that I was about to be judged on my work by many of the staff and visitors.  I began to hear the ego kicking in; telling me that I have not done enough, and that the school were expecting to witness something spectacular.   The children beamed with nerves and excitement during the morning of the show, and as much as I felt that this show would be a projection of my skills and capability, I started to remember those feelings that I experienced when about to perform. Yes, this show is in someway a projection of my capabilities and skills as a producer and director, but more importantly, this show was a projection of these children’s talents, passions and hard-work.  The shows were spectacular.  Not because of the stage design and lighting.  Not because of the costumes and props, or the directing or production.  The shows were spectacular because of the children; their smiles, their dedication, their creativity, and their love for being on that stage. That was magic.  Of course, the work that I did was not unnoticed, but like a beautiful frame, my involvement outlined and celebrated these children who were the spectacular pieces of art.

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Opportunities

My time in Jaipur was not planned prior to taking this journey of mine. I remember sitting down having my morning coffee in Canggu, Bali, when I came across this job vacancy.  I whimsically applied for the position, and within the space of a couple of days, the role was mine.

I wanted to take on this opportunity so that it offered me more money in order to travel. I did not expect it to offer me anything else but an updated CV and an updated bank balance.

What I have taken away from this has offered me something that money can not buy.  It has offered me the opportunity to meet children who I would feel so much pride and love for.  It has offered me the opportunity to help children feel pride and love for themselves.  It has offered me the opportunity to grow as a person; to feel an abundance of self-worth, self-pride, and self-love.  It has helped me to reintroduce myself with my passion for performing arts, and how I can use this to support children in their holisitic development and growth.  These were not just children, but people who I looked up to in many ways. Beautiful souls that equally taught me as much as I taught them.

Going into this blindly has helped me to walk away from this experience with a clearer perception of myself and my future. Thank you Jaipur, and the beautiful souls that I met there…I have no doubt that finding this opportunity was a mere coincidence over  morning coffee.

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Rollercoaster

I waved goodbye to my new friends, as they watched my leave through the same gates which I entered 5 weeks ago.  Michael, who I had grown close to during my time here, just looked at me, and I looked back at him; our eyes were somewhat glazed.  We hugged. Nothing else was needed to be said. We knew we would stay in contact, and we knew that we would both be ok. We had each others’ back during out time in Jaipur, and we will continue to do so outside of those gates.  No longer did I see a man who had negative energy, but a man who felt lonely and frustrated.  A man who just wanted to feel safe and valued. A man whose anxiety was often perceived as rude and obnoxious.  A man who was in fact, very similar to me.

A child asked me how my time was here in Jaipur.  I had to take a moment and really reflect on the question asked, so that I could offer both the child and myself a good analogy.  I described my time here in Jaipur as a rollercoaster. The child smiled and told me how much she loved rollercoasters, I agreed. “However” I said “do you love being on a rollercoaster during the entire ride?”.  The girl giggled and shook her head.

I had no idea what I was going to experience when I arrived here in Jaipur.  I had no expectations, and no preconceptions.

There were times where I would hope for the ride to stop, and times where I would feel complete helplessness.  There were also times where I would feel extreme adrenaline and excitement.

Now that the ride has stopped, I struggle to relive a chronological time-lapse of the journey.  I just see it as a whole.  A ride.  The fears, stresses, worries and frustrations are left on the tracks, and all I can think is ‘Wow. I want to go on again!’.

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