The village of Nallavagu, Telangana seems impossibly far away from my hotel room. Although the distance is just a feeble hundred and fifty kilometres, the difference is extreme. That difference makes Nallavagu feel like a figment of my imagination and by extension, makes the last fifteen days feel like a whole other universe.
You could read the previous paragraph in favour of Nallavagu or in favour my current state – a large enough hotel room with white sheets and even whiter walls with some very appropriate wooden flooring to go with it. This hotel room feels oddly uncomfortable and has felt this way since I first lied down on the bed last night.
It is odd that I slept better in a smaller room, overcrowded with three bunk beds, infinite insects, some occasional centipedes and a thin sheet which only qualified as a mattress in definition, not in the way it felt. While I’d fall asleep mid-sentence in Nallavagu, I was up till five this morning, trying to absorb and understand all the parts of this experience – the good, the bad and the ugly.
A tab titled, “Data Exploration in Tableau”, which belongs to an online masters’ diploma sits on the title bar of the browser, right beside the tab I’m writing this text in. Yet, I don’t need to crunch or explore any numbers or data to know how deplorable and alarming the situation of the students is in the village of Nallavagu. You don’t need statistics to know your privilege; you need to see just one person who lacks that which you always had – shelter, good food, hope. We saw about three hundred.
As a volunteer who was willing to do his best fifteen days ago, I stepped into the village with high energy levels and even higher hopes. A team of six including me, coming together from all corners of the country, was ready to facilitate a summer camp in a Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society school. That was fifteen days ago; fifteen eventful and extremely thought-provoking days.
I’m back now, and as I step into what is my life, I feel uncomfortable. In fact, uncomfortable doesn’t begin to describe the way I feel as I stare out toward the city of Hyderabad from the seventh floor of just one of umpteen buildings.
I know this text looks like someone dropped a cup full of coffee, spreading it all over the floor. That is precisely how I’ve felt ever since I got back. That is exactly how this text is supposed to be. In the next series of posts, I don’t know how many there will be and when they will be, I will share everything I feel is important from the last fifteen days.
Spoiler alert, there’s a lot.