Please note that I left Pune, Maharashtra on December 23, 2005.
Leaving Pune was easy and hard. It was easy because it was simply time for me to move on. I longed to see more India and to have more experiences. It was hard because I had carved out a little space in my heart where the place called Pune became tangled up in my definition of home.
I had a sizeable, high-ceiling, no heat room to call my home in M. House. I had a good friend Diva Brooke who was down with Akanksha too, so we shared rickshaws, stories, food, laughter and frustrations. I was also blessed to meet other great people, such as Diva Kathleen, Ms. Berlin aka Diane, Holland Spice aka Kim who added lots of light to my days. I had found a great place to get pedicures and other beauty treatments. I knew of several delicious and cheap restaurants in Pune. I had even figured out the rickshaw mafia. And more importantly, I had gotten very use to going to three different Akanksha centers during the week. Alas, all good things eventually come to an end.
It was difficult to say goodbye to the boys and girls at the Ashram center. I visited there 2 days a week. I was put in charge of the class of 14-18 years olds (mostly boys). I always gave my best and openly shared my life experiences with them. We had great discussions about life, responsibility, dreams, in addition to creating collages and writing prose. I was very proud of the fact that I got them to do lots of writing exercises (in English) since I was told the boys didn't like to write. My time with the Ashram kids was the highlight of my Akanksha experience. I do think it was easy for me to grow to adore all of the kids at Akanksha because I kept seeing myself in them all. I see them and I also see the best that India has. I see them and pray to God that India can fulfill a very important promise made in 1947 to improve the lives of its less fortunate brethren. I said goodbye to them and prayed that one day I would get a letter from them in a few years telling me of their burgeoning prospects in life. I also hope to read about a few of them in India Today in the coming decades or break bread with them in the U.S. while they are on a holiday or business trip.
I can feel the electricity of hope in the air in Indian cities. India is on the rise and the middle and upper classes are rocking out on it. I hope that giddiness of hope can trickle down to the daughters and sons of the masses. I really hope India can produce more people, especially females, who are the equivalent of me (a girl coming from a working class background who now has two advanced degrees and enough money to travel around the world). I wish Prime Minister Singh and the Congress-wallah lots of luck!