By Jennifer Jaye
Each morning since our team landed in Delhi, the first ten seconds of every morning,
after I’ve woken up, I’ve had a recurring thought – “I can’t believe I’m in India!”
Yesterday morning, after basking in the excitement of that reminder, I got ready for
our first excursion after a week’s worth of diligent work at SOREM. We readied
ourselves for a beautiful drive from Chandigarh to Amritsar. On the way, the sights
were so vivid – the scenery became more lush and green; we drove past rice patties,
horse-drawn carts, farmers, sleeper busses, auto-rickshaws, as scooters zoomed
around us. Our driver navigated crowded roundabouts – where cars were inches
away from another, honking horns, and, at times, perpendicular to one another –
with profound calm and grace. I often boast about my ability to drive through the
streets of New York City, but after being a passenger in a car here, I realize what an
amateur I am.
Upon arrival in Amritsar, we changed into our beautifully colorful kurtas and made
our way to the Golden Temple. Our taxi dropped us off a few blocks from the Golden
Temple and the streets were buzzing with activity – vendors were selling roasted
corn, sweets, toys, clothing, Punjabi jutti (traditional shoes), and postcards; scooters
and rickshaws swerving this way and that; we brushed elbows with the locals; neon
lights blinked excitedly; swatches of colorful cloth with gold embroidery fluttered in
the occasional humid wind gust.
As we neared the courtyard of the Golden Temple, the busy excitement of the streets
quickly transformed into serenity. The stark white marble courtyard contrasted
with the deep darkness of the night. We washed our hands and checked our shoes
before walking through water towards the steps that led into the inner courtyard of
the temple. We slowly descended the cool, marble steps with wet feet to an
absolutely breathtaking view. The temple emanated light – it glowed seemingly
from within and threw light into the surrounding Nectar Pool. A muffled, distant
voice read the prayers as we sat there, cross-legged, taking in the view. After a few
moments, I became mesmerized by this dazzling sight and was hypnotized by the
rhythmic sounds of the prayers.
In my moments sitting at the Golden Temple, I was reminded about what an
absolutely unique and incredible experience this is and how blessed I really am.
Two of my greatest passions – working in the field of ABA and collecting
experiences (and stamps in my passport!) – are wrapped into one intensive two-
week experience. Best of all are not only the new relationships we’ve developed
with those at SOREM, but the tight-knit group of SkillCorps colleagues-turned-friends
that I will walk away from this trip with.