Goodbyes & Good Vibes: By Phoebe Frazier
I may or may not have the best and hardest day to blog. The past few days have been full of adventures, new places, and goodbyes. So let’s get into this shish, dawg.
On Sunday, we drove to a temple. The drive there was insane. We drove basically to the top of the mountains and we could see all of the houses and buildings below us. It gave me a chance to really see how these people live and how they interact with their environment. The mountains have those steps in them and some houses are just chillin’ at the tops of these crazy Chumba mountains. There’s piles of hay and colorful buildings and winding roads. At home, I always go up in the mountains and look over the valley and it was fun to do the same here. At the temple, this guy put some thread around our wrists, the bindi on our foreheads, and gave us some sacrament. Outside of the temple, there was this HUGE statue! It was so incredible to see. Again, I’ll have a lot of research to do when I get home. I really wanna know what all of this means and why people do it. After the temple, we drove to Khajjiar. It was a park-like area surrounded by pine trees (I heccing love pine trees). There was a herd of sheep and a lot of people carrying baskets of flowers and rabbits. It cost money to hold them. There was also horseback riding and those inflatable balls you can ride in. Again, this culture is just so so different. It’s cool to see but I do feel very out of place. I took a long nap in Khajjiar because the weather was very springy. I just laid in the grass, put my journal over my eyes, and took a nap.
After all this, we travelled back to the hotel. The weekend went really slowly because we weren’t at the schools and we didn’t have a lot to do. We did get our tailored outfits, though. Later, we found out that we nearly doubled what we owed him in tips and that his eyes just got wider and wider as Raj counted the money. His wife was gonna cry. Everything about the tailor just hits me hard. That night, after dinner, we had our “Gratitude Meeting.” It was so nice to see everyone be thankful, especially when we spent Thanksgiving together. I’ve been really thankful for all of the people reaching out and helping me feel okay because this has been a hard trip. I’m so thankful for such an amazing group of people to travel with. Thanks, mom. For the letter. Love ya.
On Monday, we got back into the schools. A lot of our lessons were very distracting and did not really work well together. So the kids were pretty crazy. Dipti was kinda mad at me because I couldn’t untie her string. Fair. What an outrage. Basically against the law. But she forgot about being mad at me after we played a couple rounds of Ride That Pony. After school, we went to the YMAD house & played a bunch of games with the girls like Heads Up 7 Up. Throwback to second grade, my friends. Near the end, there was time for the girls to give us all henna. They are all incredible at it. I don’t understand. I can barely write my name and they were there just doing these elaborate designs and such. Then came the hard part. We had to say goodbye. I didn’t make as giant of bonds with the YMAD girls as I did with our school kids but it was pretty hard. They rushed us out of there so tears didn’t make it harder than it had to be.
Today, we taught our emergency lessons. Now I don’t wanna toot my own horn but TOOT TOOT TOOT! My lesson was awesome! These adorable kids drawing what they wanted to be when they grew up was adorable. The pictures were lowkey terrifying because I don’t know of any doctor with all black eyes and red ears but it’s the thought that counts, right? Demons can be doctors too. We don’t judge. During my lesson, a few of the kids asked if we’d come back tomorrow and I told them we wouldn’t be in Chamba anymore. They do this thing where, when you don’t give them something they wants, they say “Just one, didi. Just one.” It’s like they’re trying to negotiate. They pulled that when I was saying we couldn’t come back. Alright, make this harder than it has to be. That’s okay. Whatever. Anyways, all of the kids are basically obsessed with our romantic life so they asked me if I had a boyfriend. I said yes but wouldn’t give them a name. What a prankster am I. Then they just asked if it was Yug, one of the students. I said yes because Lily and Savannah are already his girlfriends so I might as well join the party. Yug legit brought Savannah and Lily flowers today. What a gentleman.
Then we did a review and our kids hate flash cards so they’d try to ask to go to the bathroom just to get out of it. Five of them would ask at the same time. Pretty easy to see through. These kids gotta learn how to lie to teachers better. Maybe I should’ve taught a lesson on how to cheat the school system. I’m good at that. After the lessons were all done, they had a surprise for us. They danced for us, gave us chocolate and these really cool hats. They gave Ash a scarf. It was like a ceremony to honor us, I think?? Whatever it was, it was cute and I loved it. Anyway, after we finished that, we gave them school and hygiene kits, necklaces, and friendship bracelets Team Azadi made a while ago. Then we gave out the rest of our photos and the goodbyes somewhat began.
Keep it positive. Keep it positive. Keep it positive. We played with the kids for a while and then they realized how soon we’d be leaving. A lot of the kids started crying and that was the end of our “I’m not gonna cry” mentality for most of us. Except for Kaden. Because of that, I’m just going to include a little convo we had at dinner yesterday.
Phoebe: Big spoon or little spoon?
Kaden: Little spoon.
Phoebe: Oh, that’s adorable!
Kaden: Yeah, it’s so much easier to eat cereal with.
This kid thought I was asking the actual physical size of a spoon. Anyway, now that embarrassing our Too Tough To Cry Boi Kaden is out of the way, back to the goodbyes. I had been dancing with Dipti and holding her and putting her on my shoulders before all the crying started. Dipti is young, right? So I didn’t really think she’d know what’s going on. But as soon as she saw the other kids crying, she broke down in my arms. That’s when Ash gave us a warning that it was almost time to skrrrt. So I held her little face in my hands and, trying to keep it together, told her that she didn’t have to cry, I’m going to miss her, I love her, and it’s okay. Words can only go so far, especially with the language barrier so I just held her and said “I know” until we had to leave. With tears running down my face, I kissed her forehead and said my final goodbye. I wouldn’t let myself look back. I couldn’t. We got into the car and a bunch of teary kids waved their goodbyes. I gave Disha my name tag before I wouldn’t let myself look at any of them. I didn’t want to make it harder for them because I know us leaving hurts them a lot. Also, I didn’t wanna cry anymore. Oof (just for you, Rebekah).
This is our last night in our hotel and I’m seriously gonna miss the balcony. A raging fire and a sky full of stars. Who wouldn’t miss that? Seriously, it gets so dark that you can barely tell the difference between the buildings high on the mountains and the stars. It’s beautiful at night. Anyway, we’re basically all backed to head outta here. We’ve done what we came to do. The rest of the trip is basically just partying.
Even though the thought of not seeing Dipti’s adorable face and all of our other kids is sad, I did my best. I’m actually really proud of what I’ve done here. I was a lot better of a teacher than I thought I could be. We got our school’s kitchen pretty cleaned up and we gave a whole lot of kids school supplies and hygiene stuff. I feel good with what I’ve left here. I’m proud. I just have to remember the change we’ve made whenever a crying Dipti invades my mind. Yes, this trip has been hard. I’ve been homesick. I’ve struggled with the food. Our toilet sucks and even though bucket showers are an... interesting experience, I am missing my shower. But this has been a life changing experience and even though it was hard, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Some wise person once said that the hardest things are sometimes the best for you, right? Who said that? I don’t know exactly. There’s a ton of quotes like that so I’m just gonna take the credit. I’m that wise person. Well, since this is the last round of blogs, I guess I’ll see y’all in Salt Lake! Off to Dharmsala!