Notes From The Road: Good bye, India. It’s been real.

On November 29th, I’m flying out of Bangalore, spending the night sleeping on my backpack at the Delhi airport and then flying into Kathmandu for two weeks of trekking and three weeks of volunteering at the Timai refugee camp (the same camp lots of my students came from).India has been great. So great! Here are some of the things I loved about this huge, diverse, delicious country.

* The lovely, amazing girls that I’ve met here. It’s oddly comforting to know that girlfriends are the same the world over – talking about what we want out of life, trading tips on cooking/fashion/money managing/relationships. A weekend with girlfriends in India (going out dancing, checking out the newest movies, getting coffee, shopping) isn’t that different from my weekends at home.

* Fresh juice every.single.day. Watermelon! Carrot-Ginger! “Sinful Banana”! (the latter is my regular – it’s banana, coffee, a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce)

* Indian Sweets! There are approximately 8 million different Indian sweets and I’ve yet to encounter one I don’t like. And let me assure you, I have been doing my best to try all 8 million.

* Getting mendhi on the sidewalk for a pittance. Apparently the spectacle of a white girl, outside of the tourist district, getting mendhi is crowd-worthy. At one point, eight people had gathered to watch the process and a little old lady said to me “We are just very curious.”

* School children who work up the nerve to talk to me. Usually involves lots of nudging and stare/smiling and then a question like “Are you from Australia?”

* The occasional camel, standing on a street corner, eating a tree. Obviously.

* Being in Bangalore long enough that I have My Juice Place, My Coffee Shop, My Bangle Place, My Favorite Restaurant, My Internet Cafe. I walk the same route so often the vegetable vendors have taken to greeting me every morning.

* A gaggle of goats being herded down my street

* The fact that nearly everything has a vegetarian option. Never in my life have I been able to order absolutely anything off a menu!

* Saris and Salwaars! These Indian ladies are on to something – leggings, scarves, flats, heaps of bangles and comfy tops; I could dress like this forever! And saris somehow manage to be conservative yet sexy. How is that even possible?!

* Street cows – and street calves! There are two sweet little, thigh-high guys that wander around my neighborhood and I’m constantly trying to entice to hang out. Currently, they’re only interested in me when I’m offering them something to eat.

* My students who ask if my hair is real, if they can touch it, if I eat pizza for lunch every day, if I can bring in a picture of my cat.

* Vegetable vendors who wander the lanes of residential neighborhoods with blue carts, selling produce door to door. (How incredibly convenient!)

* Drinking soda out of a glass bottle – it feels so lovely and old fashioned! And it’s actually an appropriate amount of soda, rather than the big-gulps that I’m used to consuming

* flowering trees that drop orange, hand-sized flowers into the street

* My amazing Indian family. My friend Megi’s mum and sister have been looking after me – picking me up at the train station, taking me to dance performances and movies, inviting me over to celebrate Diwalli and just generally being as awesome as humanly possible.

* Going to the doctor and getting four precriptions within 10 minutes, for $10.

* Showering out of a bucket. I realize this seems totally dire, but I assure you it’s not. It’s somehow oddly gratifying and very … wet?

* The toilet bidet system. The rest of the world owes India’s 1.8 billion inhabitents a huge thank you for not using toilet paper. Can you imagine the impact on the environment? Also, to engage in a bit of oversharing, bidets are quite refreshing.

(this is my walk to work)

* Giant trees shading the street

* Vintage tourquise vespas, humming down dirt lanes

* Indian Vh1 and MTV and the fact that they actually play music videos. Like, most of the time. Shocking!

* Not having to tip everyone 20%.

* Proper tea time. Every day between 4:30 and 6:30 my dorm offers up tea and biscuits for all of us. And we cluster around the dinner table chatting about our days and gossiping about Bollywood stars.

* The woman who sells beans on the street and yells ‘Hi!’ at me every time I walk by.

Have you been to India? What did you love?

P.S. I mailed off all of the ‘thank you’ packages. Will you let me know when you get them? I feel slightly nervous about the Indian postal service!

22 Comments

Ellie Di

Swoony swoony swoon! I've always wanted to go to India, and your posts on your adventures there are just intensifying my need to get on a plane. Amazeballs – all of it. I can't wait to see where I'm going to want to visit next! :3

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nova

INDIA! I love it too, just from reading this post!

<3

I never really considered the vegetarian options EVERYWHERE. That would be so fantastic.

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Shauna (Fido and Wino)

It sounds like you're having such an amazing time! Good for you!

I went to Mumbai a few years ago and there were a million things I loved… but one thing that stood out was going to a club and having a whole crowd of people teach me to dance, "screw in the light bulb," "airplane," "shrug your shoulders! shrug your shoulders!" That probably sounds crazy, but it was so much fun 🙂

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Miss Diazepam

I'm flying to Chennai on the 6th of December!! I picked up my passport with the visa today!! It's not only my first time in India, but my first time in Asia at all…and you're making me about a trillion times more excited!!
I'm gonna travel around for a couple of months though, which is not as great as creating your "own" place, but still… 🙂

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Megan

I actually have been to India, though only for 6 days. I'd love to go back! I remember going to a restaurant and asking for recommendations from the staff, then having them coach us on how to properly eat everything. We ended up being the last ones in the restaurant, and it was so fun! My friends and I had a great time learning, and the staff had a good time (and a good laugh!) teaching us all about their cuisine. So fun!

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seldom

I loved India – the street trees and the effect the dust has on the light are what struck me most. Loved your post, only increases my longing to go back.
X

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Darcie

dude, this is not juice: "'Sinful Banana'! (the latter is my regular – it's banana, coffee, a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce)," BUT IT DOES SOUND AWESOME. and we will make it the next time we see each other 😀

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Gallimaufry

India isn't wonderful. You are! It is your way of looking at things that transform the mundane into something sublime! Good for you.
p.s. I'm an Indian 🙂

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Nubby Tongue

That's it! I'm going to India! I've been wanting to since I was 6 and now it's official. I just need to muster up the courage to get on a plane (erm…) or find a sea/land method of transport.

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Amanda

Thank you Sarah! I received my package yesterday (I live in Australia)! It was fabulous and so exciting to receive! I'm now desperate to travel to India!

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M

Just received my India package today! Currently eating the wonderful mango candies, wearing the bangles and am overly thrilled by the scarf!

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NoviceWorldTraveler

I loved, loved, loved INDIAN Indian food! I also loved how openly curious people were. The staring got to be a bit much, but if they actually tried to talk to me, I would enjoy the interaction.

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