India: monuments, desert and children’s smiles

India: monuments, desert and children’s smiles

Hi guys,

As you all know, we have recently arrived in Europe from India, and decided, for personal reasons, to stop our adventure. We are obviously sad, but at the same time very optimistic that this project is not over. We will now start looking for other young adventurers to continue TOY in South America, so if you know of anyone who would be interested, please contact us at toy@the-other-you.org.

Since our van was in the middle of the ocean, on its way to Chile via the Pacific, we had to rent a car in India to continue with the project. Hertz and its Indian partner Orix have supported the TOY initiative in India and gave us a great deal to get a suitable car. Thanks to them we could reach isolated places in the country, give school resources to children in a school and an orphanage, and finally distribute footballs and frisbees to children in the streets. Here comes a glimpse into our Indian adventures.

 

  1. Agra, the city of world heritage sites

While the Taj Mahal is the most renowned attraction in Agra, don’t make it your only stop. Agra is known to be the city with most world heritage sites in the world, namely: the Taj, the Red Fort and the ancient town of Fatehpur Sikri. We loved all of them, but one of our favourite places was Itimad-ud-Daulah, a tomb built completely from marble, and with stunning inlay work. Besides all the splendid monuments and ancient sites, the city of Agra itself didn’t offer much to see.

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  1. Jaipur: buying school resources

Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, and probably our favourite city in the region, was our second stop in the trip. Just like Agra, it has many monuments worth visiting, of which we especially recommend Hawa Mahal, and the magnificent Amber Fort (visit them early in the morning to avoid the tourist masses).

Jaipur’s bazaars are famous, and we chose one of them to buy all the school resources to give to children around India. After about an hour of hard negotiations, we agreed to come back with our car, to collect: 500 notebooks, 400 pencils, 80 rubbers, 800 crayons, 800 wax pencils, 20 large packs of white paper, 16 footballs, 4 pumps and 40 frisbees… no more space for our backpacks in the trunk!

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  1. Pushkar and Udaipur, the lake towns

Pushkar is known for its sacred lake and the rituals that take place in it every evening, but we preferred Udaipur’s vibe, and its beautiful city palace overlooking the lake.

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  1. Ana gets ill at Jodhpur and Jaisalmer

The day that we left Udaipur, barely one week after arriving in India, Ana got very ill, so we had to stop in the next town, Jodhpur, to rest and recover. Jodhpur is one of the prettiest cities in Rajasthan, and even if we didn’t leave the hotel much, we enjoyed the views of the ‘blue city’ from the rooftop.

When we thought that Ana was getting better, we continued our trip to the desert city of Jaisalmer. This turned out to be a bad idea, as we didn’t even spend a full night there, when Ana got worse. From Jaisalmer, Ludo had to drive 12h to get Ana to the nearest international hospital, in Delhi. The drive ended up being quite an adventure… When we were getting close to Delhi, we started facing many roadblocks with fallen trees across the roads and stopping the traffic. It appears that one Indian caste, the Jat, was protesting against the national government and decided to block all access to the capital! We tried everything but after finding the army on the third try we decided to go for the nearest decent hospital in… Jaipur!

Ana’s illness, which lasted over a week, made our time in India much shorter, so we had to forget visiting, to be able to distribute the school supplies.

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  1. First donation in a school near Alwar

We found this primary school by chance, while driving from Jaipur to Alwar. The school was very small, and only had 4 tables and 10 chairs for all the children and teachers, so all the kids were either playing or sitting on the floor. We stopped the car in front, and walked inside to ask the principal whether he would be interested in receiving school supplies from us. He happily accepted, so we collected notebooks, pens, crayons, footballs and other supplies for the 130 kids in the school. We had never seen children so happy with their new notebooks and pencils, but the stars of the day were the colourful TOY balloons, as you can see on the photos!

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  1. Welfare Home for Children (Delhi)

One of our followers was adopted from India when he was a kid, and he shared with us his wish to see us visit his orphanage, in the outskirts of Delhi. We went there on an afternoon, a few days before leaving India, and agreed to come back the next day to deliver the school resources. We were very happy to find out that the institution was planning to open a local school, so our supplies would make a stock not only for the kids in the orphanage, but also for all the children coming to the new school. Once more, the children loved playing with the TOY balloons!

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  1. Playing with the children in Delhi’s slums

In contrast with the countryside, poverty in Delhi is more shocking. You can see children playing everywhere outside the slums where they live, with rocks, sticks, or anything they can find. In our last days in the capital we decided to spend some afternoons playing with them, and offering them the last footballs and frisbees.

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Saying bye to 7 months of TOY

Now that the TOY adventure is on a halt, we’d like to say THANK YOU to all of you who have followed it, supported us and given us help and advice.

In the past seven months, we have travelled through 19 countries, and reached over a thousand children. These results are way beyond our expectations, and we could not have made it without all of you. Now the van is travelling to Chile, and we strongly believe that The Other You is not over.

Ludo and Ana

 

 

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