Sweat and Humanity in Delhi

Written by Maria Figueroa, 2016 India: Gender and Religion

It’s hard to capture what New Delhi was like for us as newcomers to a country, continent, and culture so different (yet so similar in many ways) from our own. The first few days seemed like whirlwind (without a lot of wind) of heat, excitement, apprehension, awe, fear, and appreciation…

My first night in New Delhi, I questioned every instant that led me to that sweaty cot in that stuffy room without windows (yet somehow full of mosquitoes) in the back of that smelly alley. Interestingly enough, on my last night in India (back in New Delhi), I questioned myself every second that I wasn’t completely present and making the most out of every single sweaty moment throughout the trip. I guess I’m mentioning sweat a lot – there’s a lot of it involved.

However, once I was able to live with the amount of sweating I was doing at all hours of the day (and night), I discovered that there is much more to New Delhi, and travelling in general, than the sightseeing. While India is undoubtedly home to magnificent structures, I found that what stuck with me most was the people we met along the way. I was inspired, but it also made me feel like a huge baby – sheltered, unused to HER OWN BODILY FLUIDS, inflexible, and whiny.

Jasmine Nobiss 1

Photos by Jasmine Nobiss

Across the board, the people I encountered throughout this trip were what made this experience so close to my heart. Just in New Delhi, we met individuals from all kinds of backgrounds, traditions, and religions fighting for their beliefs. At the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib we met Mr. Singh, a Sikh man eager to share his religious beliefs with us in hopes that we could understand his people better. At the Kunzum Travel Café in Hauz Kaus Village we were lucky enough to meet with different speakers sharing their knowledge about different topics, including gender in Sikhism, teaching gender equity to small children, women’s empowerment projects, the plight of the LGBTQ* community across India, and even some yoga to remind us of the power of our own minds.

Although it’s challenging to cross such massive language and cultural barriers, there’s something we all have in common that transcends these – humanity. A smile and good intentions (with good judgement, of course) can truly go a long way.