Some things I miss about India (and some things I’m grateful for about home)

I’m sitting down to start working on a scrapbook for our India trip. These photos are so inviting. I wish I could step back in time through them and be back in India watching the tiger or shopping for beautiful hand-made Indian creations with my husband or riding in a tuk-tuk or relaxing at a 5-star hotel. Some other things I miss about India:

the colors – Everywhere you looked, from buildings to clothing to currency, you saw color. Sometimes it was gray, sometimes it was aqua, sometimes it was mint green or canary yellow. I miss the colors.

the food – I never got “Delhi belly” in India. My stomach never got upset from the food. All our American food is so plain tasting (and looking) now. I miss the multiple flavors and depths of spices we ate almost every meal. I miss food being new and learning about it and enjoying it for the experience rather than, “I’m hungry, let’s see what’s in the fridge.”

the people with their generous Indian Hospitality – There’s no such thing as “American Hospitality.” This was pretty evident to me when we flew in to Newark, NJ. If there are any New Jerseyans reading this then I hope you’re not offended! But, despite all the warnings from people about the pickpocketing in India, the only time I was ever touched when I didn’t want to be was in the security line in NJ. I’ve traveled all my life and I’m pretty efficient through TSA checkpoints. Apparently I wasn’t fast enough for the lady (maybe from NJ, maybe not?) behind me. She pushed me forward to go through the screening line. Really?!? Even the TSA worker was like, “OMG, did you see that lady push her?” There were always people to help or signs we found in English so we never got lost in India. For sure got lost in the Newark airport! There’s Southern Hospitality here in America, for sure, but overall our welcoming spirit might be lacking. The Indian people tend to be, based on our visit, generous in spirit and warm-hearted. They help you find your way, they help carry you down off a mountain ridge, and they look you in the eye when you say, “Namaste.”

the way they conserve energy – Our first sit-down lunch in America was at a Chili’s in the Opry Mills Mall. It was freezing in there! In India, when a restaurant or store is air conditioned, it is cooler than outside but it’s not cold. It’s safe and cool but not please-go-out-to-the-car-and-get-me-your-sweater-because-I’m-so-cold-it-hurts. Energy is precious out there. The escalators in malls have sensors nearby so they only run when needed. All our hotels required your key card to run electricity within the room so we only had lights on when we needed them. Smart ways to conserve energy.

the simplicity – As with all vacations, I loved living the simple life, with only the belongings I could fit in my suitcase (and Micah’s). Besides being on summer vacation from work, our responsibilities and our worries were less, and we thoroughly lived every hour of our days. There were a few movies we watched, especially when we were taking it easy after my heat stroke, but we didn’t waste time. Like I said earlier, it was me and my husband and 1.3 billion people.

Coming out of our trip, I was hyper-aware of our surroundings, and spent a few days debriefing with my husband and adjusting to the culture shock of being home. Sure, there’s no personal space in India, but they also look you in the eye and see you. Americans keep our heads down and don’t acknowledge each other anymore. It’s not so bad here in the midwest but just today, when I was out with my dog, people don’t even look at you when you say, “Good morning.”

That said, I was also happy to be home, where I could walk my dog in 80 degree weather around a nice open green space. It was good to see our family and friends and soon I’ll get back into that whole work thing. Among some other things I’m grateful for in my midwest bungalow life:

no traffic – It’s so easy to go get groceries or drive to work or go get gas or run and pick up pictures & a prescription from the drugstore here. One of our drivers couldn’t believe how small Evansville is when I told him the number of residents in our “city.” Driving is so easy here. Enforced traffic laws are pretty nice, too!

trash collectors – I have never in my life been more grateful for the trash collectors, and their company, who help us keep our city clean. Sure, there’s trash in the river and along some roads and in some parking lots or parks, but not like in some parts of India. We could do better here, of course, in taming the garbage chaos of our city. But it’s easy for me to take care of our household garbage. And I get to recycle here, too, which means less trash in the first place!

not being afraid to eat/drink our fruits/veggies/water from the tap – We didn’t eat any fresh veggies in India or drink the tap water. And the only fruits we ate were bananas that we peeled ourselves in order to avoid any parasites or diseases. So, when Micah asked me what I wanted to eat for our first meal back in America, I instantly replied, “salad!” He’d been thinking the exact same thing. We were limited on options so, for a salad from Chili’s, it was good. It was nice ordering water and not having to insist it come from a bottle opened in front of you, too!

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Western toilets – You must remember to bring your own toilet paper and sanitizing wipes when you go to the bathroom. I’ve camped for days on end so I’m pretty good at squatting and pottying but for most Americans we’re used to toilet paper and soap in our public restrooms. This is not always the case, as below is a picture below from the public restrooms at the Kahn Market, in New Delhi. So, if you like toilet paper and clean hands, it’s essential to pack your own supplies!

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Still, with all that we are grateful for about our home, we look forward to returning to India someday. We’re thinking the southern part of India next time. Got any ideas or travel tips to share?

 

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