I only have a few days left in India and I honestly do not want to go back home. Things were rough at some point, but every day had at least one moment when I would be like,
Wow, only in India!
Here is a random list of things I will not forget about in a hurry:
1. Indians and their theories: It’s not that I have been discriminated against. It’s just that these guys have the guts to say things that the rest of the world considers politically incorrect.
For example, there is this belief that the ‘real’ Indians come from the South. And the guys in the North are not real Indians because they are descendants of Alexander. From what I know, he did pass through India. But the superiority that the Northerners derive from this knowledge is what irks me just a little bit.
Then there is the obsession with skin color. The shops are packed with skin lightening creams, for both men and women. In fact, the ads and the labeling are pretty straightforward. It’s called whitening cream.
2. Indians and Hitler: Closely related to the above. You can buy a copy of Mein Kampf in waaay too many places. And a few too many street vendors stock tattered copies. And talk for just a bit too long about how he was a great leader.
3. Nightlife: I finally discovered Chandigarh’s nightlife. A well kept secret. Also, a gigantic sausage fest. They tried everything – free drinks for girls on Wednesdays. Couples only entry even into pubs. But good Punjabi girls have to be home before 10.00pm (even if they don’t live with their parents) so yeah, cheap Vodka cocktails and drunk, awkward Indian boys on the dance floor.
4. English is a fluid concept: I assumed that Indians are pretty good at English, based on their 200 years under British rule. I was wrong. So, in India you can have scrumbled eggs for breakfast, veg macheronni for lunch and you get warnings like these:
there are worse things that can happen to you than dying. [picture of broken arm]…Drive carefully!
I think that word play was totally lost on me.
5. The staring: This one deserves a post all on its own. Before I came to India, I asked one Miss Bree how she was finding life here. She said,
‘Everything is fine, except for all the stupid staring.’
I thought, yeah, whatever, how bad can it be? Well it seems that not being the right shade of brown in this country draws a lot of attention. I’ve had parents prod their children so that they can see the human anomaly walking in their midst. I’ve had groups of friends nudging each other and laughing at my freakish appearance. And families coming up to touch my strange hair and marvel at my bizarre countenance.
I’ve had so many pictures taken of me, with or without my permission, and been manipulated into impromptu photoshoots with every single member of the family. [I just hope none of them turn up on a weird Indo-African website somewhere on the internet..]
And no, this was not in a remote village without television and contact with the outside world.
I had many doubts about coming here and spending a precious (and now too short) four months of my life, working for some unknown start-up, instead of supposedly establishing myself in the grown up world.
So, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ in India? I don’t think so.
Still, I’m glad I came. Yes, I learnt some yoga. And yes, I worked for an IT company. No, I did not get Delhi belly, and no, I did not find any spiritual enlightenment. And I might even have a little bit of an American accent by now. (Don’t ask why)
All I can say is that I loved every moment of my stay: short enough to be sweet but not long enough to become exhausting.
I will be back!!