Whew. It has been a whirlwind month. One month ago today, I graduated. I didn’t really have a chance to enjoy it, because we packed me up and moved me out of my room that same day, and then four days later, I was on a plane, heading for India. Yes, India. It wasn’t somewhere I was ever really planning on going, but the opportunity came up, and I jumped on it. I was there with some people from school for nine days, and what a time it was.
Let me start by saying it was India in summer. And Lord have mercy, it was HOT. Like, hotter than I have ever experienced hot. The feels like was over 100 every day that we were there, and the humidity remained almost a constant 80%. When we stepped out of the airport, it was 1:30 in the morning their time, and it was so hot. Have you ever gone into a hot house green house, that houses tropical plants? Well that would give you an idea of what it feels like. I looked up, and it was covered, and I couldn’t figure out if we were outside. Here are some pictures that I took while we were there-
There were parts that were beautiful, and parts that were not. I had never seen a depth of poverty like those people experience. There were areas, like where we stayed, that were nice, and the mall had western stores. There was a McDonalds, KFC, and a Starbucks. Half an hour taxi ride away is one of the largest slums in Asia.
The culture there is also completely different than anything I had ever experienced before, and this was not my first time traveling outside of the United States. For one thing, staring is perfectly appropriate in their culture. And because all of the people in my group, myself included, are (very) white, they stared even more. Women are treated as lesser, so if a woman was staring at me, I could look at her and smile, and then, most of the time, she would smile back, then look away. However, if a man was staring at me, or should I say when, I couldn’t stare back, or they would think that I was a tramp.
One day, we went to this vaguely touristy place, that is a Muslim site. I have never been in so many family pictures in my life, especially when I knew none of the family members. Some of those people, strange as it may seem to an American like myself, have never seen a white person before. The day that we went, it was me, a blonde, a brunette girl, and two red headed girls. So we got stopped a lot. At one point, we were leaving, and standing outside the entrance. One family of about five asked if they could take a photo with us. We said yes, and a crowd formed. There were, without exaggeration, probably somewhere between forty and fifty people surrounding us. When I told Mom about it, she called it our paparazzi moment. I disagree, because I don’t think the paparazzi poke you and say “Picture, picture, picture.” We had to leave after that, because we were becoming even more of the tourist attraction than the actual tourist attraction.
One thing that I did find particularly fun was the haggling. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. At any of the stalls, you can argue a lower price. And it turns out that I know just enough Hindi and they know just enough English for that to work out. Because I’m white, they see me coming, and think that I don’t know how much stuff costs. Which is, to a point, true. However, whatever price they gave me, I immediately cut it in half. And then offered a little less than that. We also went in this one shop that sold tapestries and such, and it was a shopping experience that all other shopping experiences should aim for. We sat down, and were offered something to drink. Then they asked what we wanted to see, and pulled things down for us. It was amazing, and I maybe got three tapestries for myself as a graduation gift. Here’s a sneak peak at one of them.
I had decided on one, and was trying to decide between two others, then thought to myself, why should I limit myself in this way? So for just under $150, I got three handmade tapestries that I can enjoy forever.
All in all, it was a really good trip. Someone asked me if I was planning to go back, and it made me think about it. I am not immediately planning on it, but if the opportunity comes up, I wouldn’t not go back.
And then coming home, we traveled 28 hours all on one day. We left at 1:30 in the morning Mumbai time, and then arrived back home at 8:00 that evening. We had a 8 hour flight to Munich, where we had a six hour layover, then another 8 hours to Chicago, two hours there, then an hour and a half to Knoxville. It was an experience. Look in the next couple of days for my post about my guide to long flights.
I think that’s about all I have for today! I am editing a video to hopefully be up in the next couple of days, I’m trying out a new recipe, and decided to vlog the experience, so if I got any usable footage, I will get that up sometime this week.