I opened my newspaper on the airplane — scanning the weather section. I knew that India was supposed to be hot, but I hadn’t given much thought to HOW hot. I don’t remember what it said… 109? Maybe 114. What I do recall, is that on that day, India was going to be the hottest place in the world.
Strong start to the trip.
The good news is that I wasn’t alone. There were seven of us headed into that oven — Jamie, Vik, Melissa, Cubby and myself from our team, plus a guest videographer (Paul Pryor) and photographer (Jeremy Snell) — looking to capture stories about clean water in India for our upcoming September Campaign (which you’ll be seeing in the next few weeks).
charity: water has funded water projects in India since 2008, but this will be our biggest effort to date, and we wanted to be able to showcase what that work will look like. We spent two weeks with our partner, Gram Vikas, in Orissa visiting different villages — some that have received clean water (where we could see the impact) and some that have not (where we could see the need).
It was an incredible trip. We slept on a church floor in a mountain village, chased children in the rain, ate the best mango of our lives, ruined some clothing with sweat stains, used our hands as eating utensils and forced ourselves to survive with very limited internet access.
We’ll be sharing lots of stories in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some of our takeaways.
10 Things We Learned in India
1. It’s ridiculously hot in June
That’s Vik’s back covered in sweat. And you can’t tell but my shirt looks like I wore it into the pool.
2. If it’s dark, bring a flashlight
When you’re regularly coming across scorpions in the road, you don’t wear flip flops in the dark.
3. Photo assistants aren’t hard to find
Jeremy somehow recruited a group of helpers everywhere we went.
4. Curry never gets old
And frankly, neither does eating with your hands. How do you say “Clean Plate Club” in Oriya?
5. Melissa and Jamie love animals
It didn’t end with chicks and cows either. You name it, they nuzzled it.
6. You’re gonna get some hop-ons
Let’s just say that I’m not complaining about rush hour on the subway anymore.
7. You can’t take yourself too seriously
I’m paying tribute to my new favorite soda: “Thumbs Up.” Vik is fighting crime with a microphone.
8. TOMS has a new spokesmodel
He tried on my TOMS + charity: water sunglasses and thought it was the funniest thing in the world.
9. We do whatever it takes
Jeremy on the ground, Cubby in the rain and Paul riding on the roof of a car… we’re unconventional.
10. Kids win
Kids were easily one of the best parts of the trip. Up for anything, hilarious and a ton of fun.