By Aindril De and Family, Host Family of Haram, DPS Srinagar Student

“As most of us experience society through the lens of our early family experiences, we grow up believing ‘our’ family is the same as everyone else’s. We get so used to each other so much that it really becomes very difficult for us to go beyond the daily habits that we form around each other. Our daily routines, daily habits etc. become fixed and revolve around each other.

Hosting a new member of a family even it was for a few days was therefore a tad difficult decision for us to take. It was something very new and we were literally not sure of how we would go about it.

Though DLF has a rich background of around 7 years of association with AFS and has hosted students from different countries and cultures; however, we have never availed that opportunity to be a part of the process because of various reasons, majorly personal. Mostly, it was because we are both working professionals.

So, when this opportunity to host a child from our own country came our way, we deliberated within the family and finally gave the consent to host a child. We talked to other families, who had already participated in earlier exchange programs and had hosted children from other states and countries. They assured us that students participating in these exchange programs demonstrate enormous potential in and out of school! They are brave to come to a whole new place and environment. They are smart and most importantly, they are excited to be a part of the amazing experience that awaits them!

We got to know from the school that the child we would need to host would be from Kashmir, and we were very excited about it, given our lovely experiences that we have had over the years in visiting the heaven on earth, Kashmir, staying and interacting with the lovely people there.

My daughter, Anushka being a single child, had never had an experience of sharing her room and space with another child. So, the first step we took was to prepare her mentally to accept the fact that she would have a sister for that period and would need to share everything as two sisters do. However, we were still not sure about how we would pull this off. 

However, I am happy that she responded positively to it. So much so that she did the unthinkable. Something that can be easily be termed as one of the rarest acts of her life. She took out all her stuff from her wardrobe and organized her wardrobe all by herself to try and make space for Haram to keep her belongings. Though she was not able to achieve what she intended to. But this incident gave us the confidence that we would be able to do it. We had our moments of scare, when we received the long list of Do’s and Dont’s from the school. So much so that for a moment, we felt that, we are hosting someone who is very different from us. I even discussed the same with the Kashmiri girls working in our office and were told by them, not to be so overtly conscious and take it easy. Reassured, we decided to follow our gut and dig into the experiences that we had with the people of Kashmir. Even we also had to make our arrangements to ensure that Haram feels comfortable with us, especially when Barnali was nursing her old mother, who had fractured her foot.

Finally, the day came when we were supposed to receive our guests, our new family members who would be with us for a few days. We finally met Haram, a cute, shy girl with dreamy eyes. The next couple of days was spent to understand her food habits, likes and dislikes getting to know each other etc. The two girls also came closer and became good friends. 

Being from a family of teachers and engineers, she wants to be a space scientist and wants to go to NASA. She is a voracious reader and apart from playing the time-pass ninja games she loves to play riddles on her mobile. 

Eating food is the last thing she likes to do in life. Over a period of last few days, we didn’t realize how she has become a part of our family and our day to day routine. And today as I speak, and I reflect on these few days spent with her, I recall many fond memories that we had spent with her. And today with a heavy heart, from Anushka, Barnali and me. We will Miss you. Keep in touch and May GOD help you realize all your dreams.”