At the same time that good news concerning the Covid-19 pandemic is coming out of the United States, so much tragic news is coming out of India. More than one friend with family ties there has described it as survivor's guilt. Despite the solidarity-based response from individuals and communities around the world, the collective grief and anxiety among the millions of people who make up the Indian diaspora, along with other concerned global citizens, is palpable.
I'm thankful for the essays and reported news that provide much-needed context as the complicated scenario unfolds. I am hopeful for the many charitable acts, mutual-aid programs, and grass-roots endeavors delivering immediate relief.
First Things First: How You Can Help
Donors are giving desperately needed money, oxygen tanks, meals, PPE, and educational supplies. Here's a list of vetted organizations looking for donations. And here's a mega spreadsheet of foundations and fundraisers, many local and grass roots, that's being updated regularly.
The People Behind the Headlines
I've found that re-reading, listening to, and watching stories of the India we know and love — or hope to experience one day — is a small but not insignificant way to recognize that the country is not a monolith and to remember the vast nature of the catastrophe should not overshadow the humanity of 1.36 billion people who call India home.
I'm keeping the colorful, unique, and personal stories front and center. Some of my favorite traveler tales include those we published on Fathom: one about camel's milk chai wallahs in Pushkar and another about a man who visits a temple in Uttar Pradesh in the rain. I'm following chefs around as they sample their favorite local delicacies and find hidden treasures in Jaipur. Digging into the mystery of the reclusive aristocrats residing in a crumbling palace in a forest in the Indian capital. (The accompanying podcast is riveting.) Going along for the ride with Monisha Rajesh as she travels 40,000 kilometers via 80 trains throughout the subcontinent.
I'm checking off Rajat Ubhaykar's excellent list of Indian writers writing about India and hearing out his thoughts about travel writing after the pandemic. Hoping I can one day join Relief Riders International, a humanitarian-based, adventure travel company that creates horseback and motorcycle journeys through remote, rural areas of Rajasthan, and remembering this interview we did with the founder. I'm buying Art for India and savoring the beauty of people at work. Funding the decolonization of the spice trade, one tiny jar of saffron at a time. Recalling the story of a long-lost Indian disco record. And keeping the energy up with synthesized ragas from 1982.