Throughout the summer I thought I could confess some of my innermost deepest thoughts and observations unto you, but somehow after my life really started gaining momentum I failed to do so, so hopefully this entry will try to highlight some of the many aspects of India which I came to love so dearly and which I will unconditionally miss, when back in Canada.
So first things first, like any adventure it follows a format, of a steady start, with an increasing climax which reaches a conflict, resolution and then a happily ever after. Arriving to this country has proved to be rather difficult for me, especially at first. Being in a developing country, where many of our pre conceived notions did not match with the way people behaved and performed in all different sectors of life, was a bit irritating. Fetching a rickshaw and assuming that the driver knew where he was going, was of course the biggest hindrance that I came to experience. However, after several weeks you realize that yes the auto drivers do not know where they are going and you have to be more subjective in articulating where you want to go, so you say a street and then hope you can find that place that your friends want you to be at, most of the time you call up that friend and let them guide the driver, and that is how it’s done in India! After a while, this becomes second nature, you being a incredibly resilient human being never really realize how adaptable and malleable you are, unless you put yourself through hoops of fire to only realize that you came through on the other end, not only stronger and maybe a bit better, but also “alive and well”. So my first encounter with the fire was definitely giving and receiving directions in India! But to that I am proud to say that even I have mastered the art of direction giving, so I will make a reference to a dear friend of mine to whom I was giving directions myself when driving! That felt rather cool, I won’t lie!
India is a place of chaos, where nothing and yet everything somehow makes sense, a bizarre contradiction that somehow makes lots of sense. I will miss the random wondering animals in the city, starting from stray dogs that chill along the streets, to cows and donkeys that graze on garbage, taking care of recycling needs and yes the monkeys that roamed around in places that we visited throughout our travels. The monkeys are an endless source of entertainment, I must admit. They are also big thieves, as you have to be very careful on watching over your belongings. If you put something down for a second, it is very likely that it will be gone. A fellow traveler experienced this when she put her bottle a coke on the ground, to find out that a minute later a monkey was already trying to open the lid to indulge in some of its goodness! So yes, monkeys of all shapes and sizes will certainly make you laugh, delight you with their lack of manners and want for snacks or any toys they can get their snarky hands on! All in all, they are darn cute! Especially the babies and the mom duos! I had to restrain myself from trying to steal on to take home as a pet! But something tells me that it wouldn’t go down so well when crossing the Canadian borders.
Something else I will miss dearly is just being able to stroll around in the neighbourhood in a late evening, especially a park near my apartment. It is similar to a Japanese garden, has the same sort of a feel. I like wondering through, seeing all these lovey dovey couples sitting along, cuddling. I love the street vendors selling mangoes, cucumbers, corn and jasmine. I enjoy snacking on street food as I take my afternoon stroll. I love seeing children play on the playgrounds, as if it is the best thing on the planet. It is nice to see people rejoice while appreciating the simple pleasures of life, such as a swing or a candy. It is nice to see people smile, plain and simple.
I will miss the “Indian” hospitality and how it reaches way and beyond of what us “foreigners” are used to. It is always nice to be treated with kindness and respect, especially when it is sincere! I would say that I only had few bad experienced with people while my stain in India, in general I was taken aback by people’s hospitality and kindness and will always refer to it while in Canada. So beware of my Indian kindness which spans from making sure you are taken care of, from food to entertainment.
I will also miss the noises, maybe not the smells but the noises for sure. It amazed me how fast everything became normal. You don’t realize it until you are talking to a friend on the phone or skype and they terrifyingly ask, “what is that freakish sound?” and you respond with “what sound, oh I didn’t even notice”, assuming it is some traffic mixed with some birds! Then you realize, yes anything can become silenced background noise! Amazing really!
I don’t want you to think that India is this hostile horrible place, I would say it is a maze. It is frustrating at times, and you think to yourself “what was I thinking when I decided to spend my summer here” but then you realize that it’s been a thrill and you don’t want to find your way back. In fact, you wouldn’t mind being lost for a little while longer, but circumstances force you to find your way in an efficient manner so then you are ready to take on another maze ahead of you, such as entering 5th year of a Liberal Arts degree and then considering applying for further Graduate education. It will be a fun year alright.
So this experience, overall has emancipated me to think about things that I doubt I would spending my summer at home in Toronto. So first thing, I want to extend a big THANK YOU to YORK INTERNATIONAL for giving me this extremely special and valuable opportunity to live, work and travel in a foreign country for a summer (that will I forever remember and will always draw on such experience in my personal and academic endavours), for which I will always be eternally grateful! Thank you Larissa, Natasha and Lisa! You guys work so hard for us, ensuring that we are all placed accordingly and happy with our internship, without you guys this could never be possible!!! So thank you a million times over!!! Again and Again!!!
So now time for those happy climaxes, traveling and loads and loads of traveling! Working for India Urban Space was a bit of a blessing, considering we don’t have to work the Saturdays like the rest of the organization has to. So we’ve done some extensive traveling which I will feature pictures of places by place in my next blog. I wanted to keep a travel log, but that also did not happen, considering, working, traveling and also managing to find the time for friends and hang outs has been extremely difficult. I won’t complain much, because it has been rather carefree, everything is pretty much done for me, cleaning (I have a maid), you can fetch an auto to go anywhere and everywhere (if they are willing to take you, because yes when you need them most, they usually reject you, because they may not like the place where you need to go, happens a lot in the mornings when you need to run to office, as usual). So yes in restaurants, your chair is pulled, door opened, food served by the waiter, water poured into your glass…I mean it gets to the point where you start expecting people to feed you with a spoon, it gets that ridiculous! So yes you eventually fall victim to such treatment and you feel inadequate, even when performing a mundane task such as taking your rubbish out, you almost feel like someone else should do it for you. Your behaviour alters, you feel the same and yet different. Everything you failed to accept at first, seems to seep into you and make you see everything differently, perhaps I am just going a long way around to say that I am lazy. But no really, everything that I objected to, I came to accept because as my coordinators mantra said “don’t attempt to change India, let it change you!” so that I did. When I arrive back in Canada, after several weeks of longing for my life back in India, I am sure my old self slightly more refined will pop up and I will partake in rewarding tasks of doing my own laundry, cleaning my room and opening my own doors, but it will definitely be tough at first! Ha!
Oh India how you corrupt me so! I will miss you dearly! I will miss the people, the work! Yes the work! Learning more about you and seeing you for all the complicated manifestations that your present! Not being able to understand and yet getting you! The noise, the small adventures of getting to and from work, especially in the monsoon torrential rain fall where you have to walk through knee deep puddles and feel absolutely gross trying not to think about what lurks beneath. Yes, it is all part of the fun, the adventure! Also the honking in your ear making you deaf, yes that is also is part of this invigorating surround sound Dolby digital 9.0 experience. A sidewalk is rare to spot in most Indian cities, but when you find one especially during traffic hours, well don’t be at all surprised if motorcyclists over take it, because when it’s traffic time, sidewalks apparently don’t exist and you as a pedestrian for whom those sidewalks were initially catered to, no longer matter either! It’s all fair in traffic and war, I suppose. This is India! If you are walking on a sidewalk and a bunch of motorcycles zoom by, brushing you against your shoulder. Do not panic, just walk and most importantly smile, you are still alive (ha ha)! I walked in front of many buses lately, my sense of danger has been dauntingly supressed, so I walk in front of them like it’s no big deal, no they won’t crush me to bits just by moving an inch! One time a bus almost did crush me and Steph on our way for some coffee, but we ran out of its way just in time. It was an exhilarating experience if I can’t say more about it. We couldn’t stop cracking up about it, that for sure. The sort of frantic laugh that you only experience maybe once a month or so. Oh it was such good fun, definitely woke me up better than that coffee!
What else is there to say, we also came to a bit of a pivotal moment. Getting sick at home or in a foreign country is never a fun experience. I won’t go into much details in this subsection of the blog, but Steph had to go through surgery to get her appendix removed due to an inflammation. She has become a medic junkie with all this knowledge that she has absorbed. I think both of us learned something unexpected about our passions, hers is medicine and mine is farming, makes me happy to see cows and donkeys all around, my natural state of wanting to own a farm perhaps! So yes we spent one of our weekends in a hospital to only realize we were treated like royalty. Steph had like 7 nurses looking after her, an experience that was rather stressful at times was also rather pleasant. Lots of people were around constantly making sure we were ok and our needs were looked after, especially the patients. Even I for some strange reason, ended up having servants that would cater to my needs, serve me food, along with anything else that I would require. The room was rather nice, like a 5 star hotel. Two flat screen tv’s, with cable! (yes we were excited to finally watch some tv, some reality shows and such), a nice couch, a lazy boy that our friends enjoyed very much when visiting, and a bed for moi! It was quite lovely! So Steph was also quite comfortable during this tenacious experience.
So yes that was our climatic downfall, but we made the best of it, because “ce’st la vie” and you have to move on and deal with it in the best way you can! Now we have 5 days remaining so it’s time to work hard, travel to Delhi to see the Taj Mahal in Agra and then work and party some more, say farewell to some very good friends (and you know who you are!!!)! Then pack up (which I still haven’t done and cringe at the very thought of it actually) and board that final plane to Toronto! It will be a long one, but were hoping to pass out so we can get adjusted right away. It will be incredibly sad to leave Bangalore which I know refer to as my second home! But like all good things have to come to an end, so does this, as unfortunate as it is. I am sure all of you fellow interns feel the same apprehension on leaving. We all have got attached to our cities, countries, organizations and most importantly friends, so it makes it extremely difficult to once again have to move away. But just remember that there is no place like home and once were back we will be graced with family and friends and the adaptation process will begin all over again!
So hope for all of you that still haven’t returned a safe flight home!
See you all in Sept!!!