Monday, January 2, 2012

Bad Nik Chai Chi! (This Tea is Wonderful!)

People here are always asking me - Aapko Saurath kaisa lagtha hai?  What do you think of Saurath?

And my first (and honest) response is always about the people.  In my short time thus far, I have found the people of Saurath to be incredibly welcoming and open-hearted.  As I have visited many different homes, the first of order of business is always to offer me a seat and a hot cup of tea.  And no matter how many times I may insist that "Hum tik chi" (I am fine in Methali), the seat and of course, the tea are an absolute must.  

And without a doubt, the tea here is absolutely delicious.  "Bad nik chai chi" I've learned to say in Methali, which means - this chai is wonderful!  It always seems to give people quite a kick, when I utter these words in stilted Methali after my first sip :-)

And I find this hospitality across all social strata.  No matter how small the family's means, they make painstaking efforts to welcome all guests.  In fact, the first time Bhavana (Rangoli store owner) offered me a meal in her home, she said: Hum garib log hain, lekin humara dil bara hai  (We are poor people, but our hearts are big).  And when I met her neice who was visiting from Delhi, she insisted I try the chur lai (a delicious sweet like sugary rice cakes) they had just made.  She told me: We welcome and treat all guests as we would God.

Humbling words.  And an even more humbling experience to watch this unfold for a complete foreigner such as myself.

But the power of this, and ultimately the power of chai, extends beyond the social realm into our work world here in the village.  As I've seen, our programs can only be successful with the community's buy in.  And one of the main ways to build a relationship with the community and foster their trust, is through such social interaction.  For example, as we try to promote our papad training program, we visit women in their homes, sit and drink chai with them and discuss how attending this training can ultimately provide them with another source of income in the future. Amazing, what the power of chai can be in the right setting.

Now, if only I could get my chai to taste like this... :-)

In the meantime, here are a few pictures from our Office New Year's Party:

Getting some decor set up
Naya Sal Mubarak Ho!

Chicken & Lamb
Paneer & Veg Kabob for the veggies
Dig in!
Nearly everyone from the office


Hanging out w/ the ladies of the office

Roshni (Bhavana's niece) and I
More hangin'

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