My feelings on coming to India are always mixed. As much as I like coming here, I also don’t like doing the same thing over and over again. This will be my fourth trip in 7 years. It’s getting a little boring now. I have to find something else next time. It was hard to find something in a completely different country for three months, which would not break my budget. My sabbatical is for 6 months. I could have gone anywhere provided I had means and work. I had tried several places but this is the only one that worked out, that also because of some connections, otherwise nothing in this world works!
My biggest positive and negative about coming here is trying to meet everyone. Everyone wants to meet, very few want to make the effort, so they all say, you came and did not come to see us. Well…I should not have to justify anything. If I can make the effort to come from USA….
My other main issue is transport and thus my freedom. I cannot get around much by myself, as I am not confident in the directions and transport mechanism. As much as there are so many ways to get around, it is hard for me, as a single woman, to get that confidence. I would rather someone came to pick me up or if someone was with me. So getting around is tough. Be it Dehradun or Haridwar, I was not really able to go alone. Luckily in DSVV, there was some market outside the campus and there were autos that went straight to Har Ki Pawri otherwise I may not have gone there also. In Meerut now, I am trying to figure out how to go out. Market around the University is sufficient for now, but for good old shopping for clothes etc, I will need to get to the city.
Other small details that bother me – laundry. I hate washing clothes with my hands. I love my washing machine. And in India, whether I am in someone’s house or by myself, it’s just a chore. No matter that I find a dhobi, I still have wash some clothes myself. Which also means, buying soap. Then there is the dust everywhere and traffic is always bad, people just walking without looking, all vehicles honking all the time. It shows life, but it’s also pollution.
But keeping all my worries aside, I still came to India. It is my motherland and in some ways I like being here – the food, the language and definitely the shopping! All is good. Of course, one has to be able to get around first!!
The smell of India is the first thing my senses feel getting off the plane. After immigration, its all the customs people, all looking busy, no one there to answer any question, should I have one. And then of course, India hits you as soon as you leave the AC of the airport. This time I arrived on 31st Jan, but still the weather was warm in Delhi. The smell of gas, dust and the honking….all there to greet you with full force.
When I come here, I feel I smile too much. People here are just rushing to get … wherever. I will smile at the waiter also. That is how it is in USA. But not here. People keep stern and keep to business. Well, I am also a woman, so it’s possible it might not “look right”. So okay – I get it. I will smile sparingly.
The one thing that I really like about coming here is that I find Indian food everywhere – haha! Good joke eh?! But seriously, Ginger hotel has great paranthas and south Indian food for breakfast. Any decent or indecent, tea stall will have samosas and I can find Haldiram namkeen everywhere for less than a dollar! These things cost too much in USA. On the other hand, there is also the McDonald and Dominos, both of which have good Indianized menus. So I will eat there also sometime.
|All the eating places, just one side of road! Can you see McDs?|
And now that I am here, I have to put all my feelings aside and take it as it comes. The first week was the hardest one (as it was in Haridwar also, once I finished my 9 day shivir at Shantikunj). Communication issues lead to misunderstandings. No one wants to just pick up the phone and call or even reply to me. So these things will happen. But once those hiccups are over, life gets into a routine, just like home.
I like being able to speak in Hindi all the time. I like that people are curious about America and ask me questions about it, that is my first home after all. I enjoy the confidence that I don’t have to worry about anything. I have a nice job and home waiting for me when I come back to USA. That confidence gives me a chance to sit back and observe, learn and grow. Each time I have gone back home, I have that sense of calm in me that I am in a good place. Yes, people here (and my friends there) always ask me where my husband is, and all I want to say is, “I don’t know, let me know if you find him!”
Once again, I will spend three long months here. I always miss my house, I miss it’s comfort, but these journeys are also important for me.