• Asmat NGO

Of Laughter and Changing Perspectives: The Lighter Side of Soda

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Magical. I think that’s the word that describes Soda perfectly. It was not long ago, when I was going through the Asmat blog to read previous volunteers’ experiences and gain some insight.


By Reetika Raj, Summer 2015 Volunteer


Magical. I think that’s the word that describes Soda perfectly. It was not long ago, when I was going through the Asmat blog to read previous volunteers’ experiences and gain some insight. Today, here I am, penning down my experiences, of what could easily qualify as one of the best experiences of my life. While reading those articles, I came across a lot of similarities, like – Babloo bhaiya, the reservoir, the shop near the Sarpanch’s house, Bhaskar ji, the naughty kids, etc. I didn’t understand them back then, but they make all the sense in the world to me now.



Soda impacts each and every volunteer in a massive way, and it’s not like we all go through a moral epiphany or something. No. It’s the subtle things we experience that change us. Subtle, not trivial. It might be a random conversation we strike with one of the villagers, or a game we play with the kids, or even moments spent with the other volunteers. For me, it was all of this that sent me back a different person, and much more. I was honestly so confused and lost when I decided to write this article, because I had so much to tell everyone, and didn’t know what to leave out. So I just think it’ll be easier to enumerate the best moments that Soda gave me. Here goes –


  • Babloo bhaiya’s ‘delicious’ food and lassun ki chatni.Bathroom quarrels that took place every morning, until some of us figured out that bathing in the evening was a better idea.

  • Emptying the close by shop by purchasing all the Mazza, Thumbs up and chips we could lay out hands on. And then later Maggi too, after it got banned.

  • Star gazing after a hard day’s work from the Dharamshala’s roof as Soda had some of the best skies to offer.

  • Building a special bond with your dhani villagers, women and children. Especially the children. The children are always the BEST.

  • Spreeha’s DELICIOUS and out of the world cakes for special occasions.

  • Celebrating Kunal’s birthday with the other volunteers.

  • Playing cards everyday to pass our time (Bluff and Mafia). Also, later we shifted to cricket after procuring a bat.

  • Our one cheat day to Jaipur, where we HOGGED, HOGGED, and did nothing else, but HOGGED.

  • Listening to everyone’s daily reports in the evening and discussing their heart wrenching, but mostly funny experiences.

  • Being constantly questioned by the village women, as to when do we plan on getting married and why haven’t we gotten married yet.

  • Getting emotional on our last day with the children. Some of us even got teary eyed while the others felt choked.

  • Practicing our nukkad natak which we worked really hard for late at night before our final visit to our dhanis.


To a stranger reading this post, it’ll make no sense. But to people who’ve worked in Soda, this is what changed us. And changed us how? Just giving us perspective and making us a little more thankful for whatever we have in life. I still remember leaving for Soda with one suitcase and one handbag. But I came back, with a lot more. Thank you Asmat, for everything.