After countless hours–practically 24 hours to be exact–I finally made it to India. I’m so tired that I don’t feel like a real person, but I’m happy to be here and all my nerves have melted away. People were right, you really do feel a huge culture shock. It’s like no place I’ve ever experienced, but in the greatest way possible.
When I left the Bangalore airport at five o’clock in the morning, the first thing I noticed was the overwhelming humidity. Having grown up in Michigan for half my life, the heaviness of the humid air was nothing new, but it didn’t change the fact that my thick sweat paints and hoodie kept clinging to my sweaty skin the moment I stepped outside. I was thankful to get into the air conditioned car and took note to never to wear that outfit again while I’m here.
My mentor and host, Anand, and his friend, Ravi, drove us to our hotel. We weaved through traffic, horns blaring every five seconds. My friend, Maddie, asked Anand if people honk their horns so much out of curtesy and he replied with, “No, we just love honking.” Basically, they’ll honk just to honk. And I love it.
The traffic was an experience in itself. I don’t think lanes exist on the streets. If they do, no one seems to care. Cars, buses, motorcycles packed with families of four (and sometimes more), even tractors and bicycles, zig zagged their way through whatever open spaces they could. If I tried driving I’d probably have a nervous breakdown and lack the aggression needed to get through the sea of people. But I did enjoy the ride.
After passing farms, shacks, people roaming the streets barefoot, and hundreds of cattle and stray dogs (seriously, there are so many cows and dogs, it’s incredible) we made it to our hotel. The view from our balcony is beautiful.
So lush. So green.
I don’t think I’ve ever been more happy to get into bed than I was when we got to our room. Maddie and I cocooned in our sheets and slept for longer than we should have. We even slept through our alarm. Oops. Sleep was much needed, clearly. Luckily, we woke up in time to go to “Fab India” and get dinner with Anand and his wife. Anand told us that the restaurant he took us to wasn’t so much about the food, but about the “experience.” And what an experience it was.
As we walked in, a man at the front counter marked our foreheads with a yellow dot. A golden kettle filled with warm water was brought to our table to wash our hands with, then the food was served. I haven’t tried much Indian food before, but, let me tell you, I could definitely go back to this place for seconds.
I mean, come on, look at all that deliciousness! It was such a great way to end my first day in India–with a full belly and a happy heart.
I can’t wait to see what else is in store for these next three months. But right now I need to try to force myself to sleep. I’m hoping I can get used to this time change. Wish me luck.