After leaving India, I’ve been able to weigh the aspects of the sub-continent that I’ll miss most as well as the little things that I felt were holding me back.
It’s been over a month since I left India. Being back in the U.S. has been really great in the following ways:
- I’ve lost 5 lbs
- I can go to the gym without anyone telling me how to work out
- Decent salads!
- Tasks like going to the bank, mailing a letter, and driving are incredibly easy
- Clouds, rivers, nature walks, woods, etc…
- I’ve been getting so much more done work-wise
- Seeings family and friends
- Not one is staring at me
I was really anxious about leaving India. Honestly, I started worrying about it almost immediately. There was one night in April last year when a bunch of us drove up to the foothills in the Himalayas in the middle night to drink and play guitar. I realized that night that as much as I loved India, I just would never 100% fit in. I was mostly worried about missing my friends there, but also the food, going to the market, getting everything for dirt cheap, living an interesting life, etc… There are definitely aspects I miss (again, mostly the people and the cheap, pretty clothes) but I really think coming back was the best decision.
Time to Leave
About mid-January I was sitting in my ice-cold apartment. Recently, the power had gone out during a storm one night and as Rohit and I were sitting on my couch trying to order food, we realized that in the 10 minutes since we had last had light, the entire apartment had flooded. I had four balconies at my apartment, but the all drains got clogged due to hail, and the water piled up and seeped through the cracks under the door. Realizing we had stuff on the ground (guitars, bags of clothes, computer chargers, etc…) we frantically started running around in 2 inches of water using just the lights of our cellphones. Of course I dropped mine and it cracked open, letting water seep inside.
That was just the beginning. It took 12 hours and 7 people to get all the water out and I had to get my phone fixed (only $30 but its still not back to normal). After that, water must have gotten into the house foundation; the walls and ceiling became saturated for the next month. These ominous stains just sort of lingered over my bed, reminding me that I could never be sure when India would come out and bite me again.
That brings me back to my ice-cold apartment. A few days after the deluge incident, I decided to dye my hair. I put the dye on as instructed and waited the required 25 minutes. When it was time to wash it out, I realized I had no hot water in my shower (again). Losing hot water was so common, I actually started beating myself up for having not checked it first. It was as I was kneeling on my dirty bathroom floor (so much dust, it never got clean) sticking my head in a pot which I had mixed half-boiling water from the stove and half-cold water from the shower, that it dawned on me: I had Stockholm Syndrome.
Goodbye to India
There are so many things I really loved about India. I loved speaking my crappy Hindi, I loved the food, I loved the people selling everything you could imagine on the streets. I loved how logical and illogical everything was at the same time, how a law would pass and everyone would roll their eyes and say, “give it 4 months and they’ll stop enforcing it.” I loved how they had energy-saving escalators and upscale malls next to slums (I know that’s messed up but from an anthropological perspective it was very telling). I loved how Sikhs would set up tables and give away free food. I also loved teaching others’ about the U.S. Force feeding everyone Peeps, S’mores, Pop Tarts, and Maple Whiskey were always highlights for me.
But there were so many things that were frustrating and uncomfortable; I feel like I’m just more productive and taking better care of myself here. Now I go to the gym everyday for an hour. I’m able to stick to a really strict diet because I know what food I am eating and how to cook (all my ingredients are at the grocery store). I’m able to drive anywhere I want and sit in the library to do my work. I can eat beef!
I learned so much living in India. There was a totally different mindset about so much: dating, marriage, family, friendships, time, work, money, etc… And as much as I loved learning about these things, it was difficult because I felt like I couldn’t connect with people like I can with people from Europe and the U.S. That being said, I definitely think I’m a better person now. I feel like certain values have strengthened, like my relationship with my family, how I see dating, and what I want out of life. So I owe a lot to the experience. I hate to say something so cliche. I feel like everyone travels and “finds themselves” when they see a sunset. But it is what it is.
The moments of nostalgia hit. Yesterday was Holi, for example. I celebrated it last year and it was by far my favorite day in India in the year and a half that I lived there.
Here are some other things I’ve been missing:
So, while I’m really going to miss the great times, I’m really excited about what’s next. That will come in a new blog post soon, once I am more certain what that “next step” is exactly. Goodbye to India!