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Tripathy’s to India!

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Tripathy’s to India!

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Although we have traveled to India several times before, every trip is different.  Normally we spend at least sixteen days in India, if not more; all of our family on my dads side is there. However, this trip was only ten days, including 4 days of travel. As of recent, my grandma has been struggling with both of her kidneys and going through dialysis three times a week, so this trip, although short, was dedicated to being there for her.

After 21 hours of flying and a few hours in the car, we made it to Angul, a small town in India where my grandparents live. After resting and sitting for so long, we were eager to get up and moving – and luckily for us, there happened to be a village festival going on that night in honor of Holi. Known widely as the “Festival of Color,” it takes place over two days, and is a celebration of love, as well as the triumph of good versus evil. Before going to the festival, we met up with some other relatives who live in Angul and we all walked to the festival together. It was an exotic party with colorful lights, music, dancing, people painting on the streets, and selling small items like jewelry or balloons. We didn’t stay for too long because we had to go back to the house for house-to-house blessings. A group of men was running around the small town, banging drums and playing loud music, going from house to house blessing it’s people. At first, my mom, Ryan, and I didn’t know what was going on. They came and gave us red powder to put on our foreheads as a symbol honor, love and prosperity. Our family explained to us what was going on, it was incredibly uplifting when all the men came dancing up to the front door, blessing us and repeating a short prayer with us.

To top off the beautiful blessings and love that Angul has to offer, a family friend along with two people that work for my dad took all of us to a temple the next day; a Hare Krishna temple. ‘Hare’ is a powerful word that directly addresses the energy of the Lord. ‘Krishna’ is the name of the Supreme Personality of God. Krishna is the Possessor of every quality in and out of the universe. He also possesses these qualities in an unlimited quantity. It is believed that by doing service to Krishna, anyone can be linked to his reservoir of unlimited happiness. Before attending this temple, I didn’t know any of this. I knew of of Lord Hare Krishna, but I didn’t know who he was or how he fit into the universe of gods. At the temple, we met a Swami, meaning a religious teacher. He told us many stories of Hare Krishna; his life, how he came to be the god of happiness. He spent hours talking to us and answering our questions. It was such an amazing experience that we’ve all planned to contact him when we come back so he can take us on a spiritual trip. I’m so excited!!!

My absolute favorite part had nothing to do with the “India experience.” We had just arrived back at my aunt and uncle’s house from the Kalinga hospital when my uncle, Counabina invited me into his bedroom. He had the lights off which seemed a little strange, but then he clicked on YouTube and started calling for his cat, Whiskers, to come join us. Whiskers came running and we all sat down together… then Counabina went to the search bar and his recent searches read “cats fighting” and “cat fights.” He clicked on it and went to the first video, smiling, and as soon as the video began, Whiskers was focused in on the TV. It turned out, Whiskers had gotten into a fight on the balcony with a stray black cat, and Counabina watches catfight videos with Whiskers to teach him how to fight so he could defeat the black cat – I’ve never laughed so hard!

Another special aspect of this trip was that it took place during my sixteenth birthday. For the most part, people in India don’t think of birthdays as a big deal, so I wasn’t expecting much. But my JeJe Bapa (grandpa) along with my aunt Mitu and my uncle Counabina planned a birthday party for me. They invited family, friends, and neighbors. I knew a lot of people that came, but there were many that I didn’t know or I’d never met before. However, no matter who they were or how they knew me, everyone treated myself, my mom, and Ryan with so much love and kindness. Sometimes people look at us differently because we clearly appear to be foreigners, but our family has always accepted us, including friends of our family. Everyone says “they are Tripathy’s, they are us” and there’s this indescribable love that comes with the acceptance. I never would’ve guessed that I’d celebrate my sweet sixteen in India with an Indian birthday party. It was a truly special experience with memories that I will cherish forever.

Because this trip was so quick, we tried to fit in as many fun things in, as well as spending time with my grandma in and out of the hospital. For about a year now, she’s been going to the Kalinga hospital in Bhubaneswar every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for five hours to get dialysis. So, we made sure to be with her at the hospital on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while we were visiting. The first time we visited the hospital, we came up with the idea for each of us to make sure she knew that she is strong and loved, it really did make a difference too, more than we’d even hoped. We went to visit with the intentions of being with her and helping her, so we each did our part to make sure we didn’t waste any time during our short trip out to the family. By the third day of analysis, I’d learned a lot from being there, and I can say the same for Ryan and my mom. It was a wonderful experience from sitting in the dialysis room with my grandma to sitting in the waiting room with other supportive friends and family of patients who knew my grandma. I was really happy to know that I could help my grandma feel a little bit better just by talking to her, massaging her, and even just holding her hand quietly.

Unfortunately, my dad couldn’t come with us due to conferences for work. Even without him there, India is an incredible place, unlike any other. After traveling there so many times, I can confidently say that even when people have no money, a grass house, and rags for clothes, they are the happiest, most spiritually and physically connected people that I’ve ever met. And it’s the most beautiful, uplifting kind of energy to be around.

 

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Tripathy’s to India!