Visiting Risheehat, a village about an hour outside of Darjeeling, was one of our last big projects in India. I could write about all we did there in an entire series of posts, but I’ll keep it to just this one and one in our members’ only section.
I was most definitely sick before going, but decided to go anyway knowing that if I didn’t get better, the option of leaving with half of the team after only 1.5 days would be available, although Burke and I were planning on staying for the 5 day duration. The majority of the first day was spent preparing for a program that we were putting on for the people of the village and the neighboring villages. First we cleaned the room, then moved in speakers, and then went door to door inviting people to the program. We quickly learned about village time. We were instructed to tell people to come at 5, meaning they might arrive/we could start by 8. There is an amazing story about how the program almost didn’t happen on the other blog, so you should seriously read it!
The next morning half of the group went home, I stayed in the village with the understanding that we would be “off” for the day and I would have plenty of relaxing/healing time. Wrong.
We hiked down the mountain to a waterfall. It was so beautiful that despite feeling pretty awful, I kept saying that deciding to stay was one of the best decisions of my time in India. For lunch we had homemade momos, a Tibetan cabbage stuffed pasta. This is one thing I am looking forward to trying to recreate at home!
We had to hurry back from the waterfall for lunch at 1 so we could be to the soccer game which was supposed to start at 1:30. The other team didn’t even show up until 3:30. Village time. We loved watching the football game. Our home team wasn’t doing so hot for the first half, and there seemed to be a huge number of fans for the away team. After the game we asked our host why that was and he said all the fans for the other side were from Risheehat, they just cheer for the other team because their own team cheats. And we saw that firsthand too.
The next day we hiked through the tea fields to the neighboring village. The hike was amazing. Every turn exposed a beautiful view, and there was even a baby enjoying the ride. We visited many houses and invited people to our open-air program, similar to the one two evenings before.
The funniest part of the program was that we were just playing it by ear. After we performed a skit, we looked to our leader and asked what was up next. He said, “Oh don’t worry. Vivek (our host) will tell us.” And not ten seconds later Vivek came down from the stage and looked at us all and asked, “So what’s next?”
Before leaving that evening, we asked about church the next day. We were told that one of us (me) could prepare a very short message but it would not be the sermon because there was a guest pastor speaking. No problem. “What time does church start?” we asked. “9…9:30…Okay maybe 10.”
The next morning we ate breakfast at 9:30 and walked to the church at 10:45 and were the first ones there! It started sometime shortly after 11 (Love that village time!). The real highlight of the morning though was that they wanted a whole sermon! I wasn’t prepared so instead we filled the extra time with short testimonies and songs.
We really learned to go with the flow and adapt to the village lifestyle in Risheehat. I’ll even say it again, deciding to stay in the village was one of the best decisions I made in India.