Saturday, 31 July 2010

Beating Loneliness

27 July 2010
I remember the first day when I was dropped in Bongo and Issa, the kind man who drove me from Bolgatanga, cautioned me that, I shall feel lonely for first two-three days. He was true as he must have had experience with so many VSO volunteers. In my case however that feeling of loneliness came after a week instead of first 2-3 days. I, always being a reserved person, don't socialise easily but simultaneously I have a big social network of friends about whom I am very selective. This must have been reason for the feeling of loneliness starting not immediately but after a few days.
In the first week everything was new. There was an excitement about it and a kind of distrust on everything that was coming in front of me. It kept me busy thinking about all those new things. In the last week however the feeling of that loneliness started to creep in when I started to know some people better and was capable of finding my way out through some of the things. I started to feel that I don't have any friends around here except Rose. Back in India, one could call on a person very easily once we start to know them. Most of the volunteers residing in Bolgatanga are Westerners (British, Dutch, Canadians etc.). I thought that it was not easy to call on them any time as I had heard a lot about westerners valuing their privacy etc.
I started to realise that I would be away from my homeland and my people for almost an year. The way back was not easy and I have been getting some crazy experiences with the local people. Simultaneously when I saw that there are many things to which I could easily adjust being from a developing country like India and there was nothing to worry about much. Some of the volunteers in spite of coming from the developed countries have been able to adjust very well to the local situation and are doing fantastic work in the most backward parts of the country. At a deeper level I think that this is a problem of typical Indian middle class where one is raised in a very protected environment and always surrounded by so strong a social fence that people just do not get mentally tough enough even after attaining physical maturity and getting into adulthood. But I have been able to get over with it to a large extent after some days. I shall share my ways of achieving it.
  1. I have been doing regular exercise not missing a single day since I arrived in Ghana. This has helped to always keep the energy levels high.
  2. I pro-actively sought to meet or contact people. They include locals who helped me with many small things and also westerners, about whom I had prejudices which disappeared after meeting them or contacting them in person.
  3. I made proper plans for some of the things which I wanted to do and wanted to achieve during the day. It helped to move away the bits and pieces of anxiety that may come in the way.
  4. Listening to the music and reading helped me a lot.
  5. Writing a regular diary which I am now publishing in the form a blog. It helps to come out of the situation which I had been into and think about the circumstances as a third person in an objective way.