Being Human

Leonie Josephine AndresenUniversity of Cambridge


When I arrived in India, I was really focused on making an impact by analyzing the health system implemented by Tata Trusts in three different states of India. Now, that I have been living here for two weeks, I have realized that it is not only about the positive impact I am making on India, but the impact India is making on me. I travel around the world and work in different contexts because of my underlying goal to gain an understanding of the global diversity of the human mind. However, in Vrindavan, I realized the beauty of the global similarity of it.

Usually based in Mumbai, I spent the past four days in Vrindavan, where the Hindu deity Krishna is said to have spent his childhood. I lived on the campus of a hospital that Tata is working with. The hospital is led by monks and its atmosphere is accordingly, as are the people – incredibly welcoming. In this essay, I want to focus on three of them.

The first is an optometrist called Sangeeta, whose eyes were an astonishing amber colour. I met her when spending a day accompanying the Mobile Medical Unit bus that travels around the district of Mathura to provide rural villages with medical support. She showed me around the entire site, answering my relentless questions. While she investigated patients, I sat in her office where we spoke not only about the project, but about life, god, and people. Here, I realized that even though there are an endless amount of religions around the globe, we all believe in some kind of god. Why is there this overarching belief in something we cannot see? While society puts so much emphasis on scientific advancement, there is something that unites us all that can sometimes seem hard to grasp from scientific grounds.

Then there is Abdullah, the project coordinator. One evening, while showing me around the hospital with another staff member I suddenly found myself in the darkness between two fields at the backside of the hospital. When I asked Abdullah where we were going, he turned to me and said: To the cows! - Why? Because I had asked so many questions about the sacred cows in India during the day that he thought I might be interested to see them. Usually, that is not included in the visitor tour. I will never forget his smile while I was laughing at the cows eating to the sounds of Indian music. Regardless of where in the world, we find joy in having a little surprise for the people around us.

Last but not least there is Dr. Amol, the person in charge of the overall project. With him, I realized: No matter how far the mindsets should diverge according to national, cultural and age differences, you will always find someone with whom you can enjoy the comedy of situations that make you silently giggle even after you have already physically left the moment.

Coming from around the globe, we might seem to be all so different. Which we are in many regards. But we should not forget about the similarities we have that make us all being human.