Pot Holes, Pot Holes, and More Pot Holes

By Gabriella Tuell

Well, I was looking forward to being all creative and interesting in my first blog entry, wittily commenting on my struggles and triumphs here in India and reflecting on how I’ve grown as a leader. Truth be told, I’m way too tired to write about any of that. Trust me when I say that there has been struggles, there have been triumphs, and I have grown as a person and leader. I have also cried and fallen and laughed and a lot of other things…mostly out of sheer exhaustion. I swear I’ve slept more in the last few days than in the last week, but as soon as I leave these classrooms of beautiful kids and joyful energy, I find myself wanting to sleep for the next several decades. At least. In any case, I wouldn’t exchange the experiences I’m having here for the world.

Now onto my lame blog stuff:

Indian traffic and Indian drivers are pretty well known, and are not necessarily held in high regard. Let me tell you, no story or video can adequately describe the terror and exhilaration of riding in a bus in rural India…on single-lane, mountain roads, in traffic, in the rain. It’s great. Let’s just say I no longer need a season pass to Elitch's this year. One of the highlights (or lowlights, I haven’t decided) of my trip so far was on our bus ride home yesterday, when I fell on the floor in between my seat and the one in front of me because we hit a huge bump in the road and Eric’s Hillary Clinton impression was so great I couldn’t breathe from laughing so hard so I couldn’t get up. I have several bruises from our rides, everyone in our group has been afraid for their lives at one point or another, and I’m pretty sure Megan has serious head trauma from banging her face into bus windows on multiple occasions.

Speaking of pot holes, did you know cannabis grows wild all over the place here in India? Well it does, and everyone here has about a hundred stories and about a thousand pictures of these plants that basically pour out of every ditch along the road to our schools. One would think that living in Colorado, we’d be over the whole weed thing, but I guess not. We’re teenagers after all, what did you expect? You’re probably already sick of hearing about the infamous Pot Cow and that one little girl who pulled up an entire marijuana plant to bring into class as part of an activity. If not, I’m sure you’ll be tired of these stories soon.

Finally, I’ve gotta wrap up my blog with a poor attempt at a metaphor so my entry title can be considered somewhat clever (maybe?) by some...so here it goes.

Pot holes are viewed as obstacles and inconveniences on the road. Pot holes interfere with one’s journey and are viewed as things to be “fixed.” This isn’t always the case however. What I’ve found is that the “pot holes” in my journey here with YMAD: both the literal and figurative have furthered my experience to an immeasurably large degree. The joy I’ve felt and growth I’ve made would be lessened without the discomfort of our journey; difficulty of the adjustment to the culture and landscape, and primarily the bathrooms; and without the mistakes I’ve made as a teacher and traveler. I’ve come to realize that if I had a perfect, flawless experience I doubt I would be able to fully appreciate it. Without my mess-ups and failures and embarrassments, I wouldn’t have such a strong connection with this community of YMADers or with these gorgeous, brilliant children I’m just starting to get to know.

Marce says that this entry doesn’t really have to be long or good because my family just wants to hear from me but I honestly can’t remember whether or not I told you guys I was going to blog or not. If so I made it to India alive, well (I mean I didn’t puke on the plane or during the 20+ hours we’ve spend on busses which is a miracle in and of itself), and without losing anything important (are pinky toes considered “important”?). In any case, I’m having a wonderful time and would stay here forever…except that I miss most of you—the exception of course being Max—life without toilets is not an existence I would be able to readily accept long-term, and my sleep schedule is absolutely whacked to say the least.

So goodnight. While I definitely hope to make it back to the US in one piece, I definitely won’t mind or regret the many pot holes I encounter on the way.

Your Favorite Child Always

Signing off at 10:00-ish pm AIT (Awesome India Time) 10:30am MST