Being in a homestay has been an amazing experience for me and my family. I admit that at first I was very skeptical of the idea, as well as a little bit worried we were gonna be brought to some sketchy areas or possibly just be bored. I really didn’t know everything we were going to be doing, and I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t either; but, of course, they wouldn’t admit that to us. But it has definitely become one of the biggest highlights and not just because of the incredible food we were served. Being surrounded by everyday village people and the simple, yet hard, lifestyles of everyone really gives you a different perspective.
You would think sleeping in a hut made of cow dung wouldn’t be the greatest right? It was actually very nice…surprisingly nice in fact. The entire home of Chhotaram Prajapat, our tour guide/host, was very nice; and the family was warm and welcoming.
Indian families all live together. Grandparents, parents, children, and brothers, families are all together. The only member who leaves the house is the daughter when she marries. She will then go to live with her husband’s family. Chhotaram Prajapat’s family was kind; and even though some didn’t speak English, they still helped us and welcomed us into their home. And the food, of course for me, completed the Indian experience. We were able to help make the millet bread our first night, and every meal since was exceptional. I would always be surprised after every first bite with the delicious flavor. There was only one thing our entire stay that I didn’t like and I already knew I didn’t like it, that was flavored eggplant. Yuck! I mean, “I don’t care for it.”
The highlight of our stay was our first full day, when we were able to witness just a bit of the everyday lives of the different families all around the surrounding villages. The experience was so cool, and the simplicity and tradition of each place was astonishing. Just little things were intriguing, like the man who showed us Indian clothing; and the sewing factory, who always offered something to drink because he is supposed to offer refreshments for the guests of his home. Other things included the opium ceremony that we partook in.
Yikes! Yes, I did try a super small amount of opium. But I’m not addicted so don’t freak out…..yet. The opium ceremony is always done when a family invites guests to their home. The opium is crushed into water, and some of it is offered to a Hindu god of the family’s choice. Then the guests drink the rest. Opium is actually used a lot in the villages as a painkiller; and a long time ago, opium was always used by soldiers before battles.
We were able to participate in some of the activities of a few of the professions around the village. In the shepherds village, we held the only two day old, baby goat.
We also made pottery in the pot maker’s home on his clay-forming wheel. Mine and dads were the only ones that didn’t stand up straight.
The routine tasks of every one of these families amazed me. Every member of the family knew their jobs and no one complained, the children especially. Working in the hot sun should make you pretty irritable, but the children were very respectful to us and their parents, unlike me and Ella and other kids back in the States sometimes.
The ways the children entertained themselves too were impressive. These kids don’t have phones or video games or things that we have; they don’t even have a tv. But they still entertain themselves. If it’s just throwing around a ball, or exploring the many twists and turns and alleyways of the village streets, or even more elaborate things like the game kabaddi. If you have no idea what this game is, I encourage you to look it up; because I still don’t know enough about it to explain it in words.
The homestay experience was definitely an unforgettable part of our trip. We will always remember Chataram’s family and the time we spent with them and the people of the village. – Walden