With only a few hours left in India, it’s time to say phir milenge to the place that’s become my home for the last two months. I’m writing this post from a food court in a mall in Delhi. Lights flash from the rides in the “Fun City” amusement park next to the food stalls. Whitney Houston blares over the speakers. Even in India, I feel like I’m in a different world, far away from the mustard fields of Sangat and peaceful lakes of Udaipur. Five days ago, I said a teary goodbye to my host parents, Meenal, and the Chitra staff who coordinated all of our activities in Udaipur. Since then we’ve been travelling around India by train and bus, stopping at Jaipur, Agra, and Delhi. We rode to the base of the Amber Fort in Jaipur on the backs of elephants and zipped around the Old City in Delhi in rickshaws. We watched sunrise at the Taj Mahal. past five days have been filled with walking, shopping, listening to guided tours, but most of all, I’ve just been thinking a lot. It’s hard to believe that two months ago I landed in Delhi, bag-less and in total shock with my surroundings. I didn’t know anyone on the trip and was scared about the culture, food, classes, and people. Now, I look around and feel at home. I’m no longer taken aback when I see a cow sauntering across a street filled with autos, motorcycles and “goods carrier” trucks. I can place my order at an Indian restaurant. I’m friends with everyone on the trip.
My stay in India has been everything I’d hoped it would be. I’ve been wrapped up in the culture of India- going to weddings, living with my host families, riding scooties around Udaipur with Meenal, visiting malls and markets, going for morning jogs at the athletic fields of a nearby university. I’ve been uncomfortable- beggars and homeless people on the streets, bucket showers and squat toilets, uncomfortable beds, and upset stomachs. But it’s been exactly what I wanted. I wanted it to be a challenge; it wouldn’t be India otherwise. It’s also been completely rewarding- becoming a second child to Deepti and Ajay (they’ve made Facebook and Skype accounts now, so we can stay connected), talking to empowered women in Sangat about their health care decisions, mastering the streets of Udaipur to the point where I could take autos around by myself. India has become my home.
Now with only six hours left in India, I find myself incredibly sad to leave, but ready. I’m excited for Beijing. It will be a completely new experience filled with its own challenges and highlights. I’m excited to speak the language, recognize the food (or at least some of it), and enjoy the freedom that will come with living in a student dorm instead of a homestay.
I’ve gained so much from my time in India and am ready to learn more in China.
So dhanyawad, India. Thank you for everything you gave me over these past eight weeks. And phir milenge. May we meet again.