Today is my 5th month anniversary in India. I remember perfectly the very day where I landed in this Indialand. The people who were next to me on the plane, my first Indian meal on the plane (which was Rajma Chawal), a mixed feeling of anxiety and apprehension with the belief that everything would be alright , listening to English with Hindi accent for the first time and understanding only half of it, all those checking at the airport…seeing the signs in Hindi, Indian flags, Indian people, the way they put tape in their luggage with their names and address. It was the first time I was ever in Asia, and the farthest I had ever been from home, from anywhere I could consider my comfort zone.
I remember being really tired, buying a bottle of water and later on being afraid to drink, because I forgot to check if it was sealed. I mean, “Lonely Planet” advised me to only drink water on a proper sealed cap bottle.
I remember arriving in Jaipur, watching EVERYONE stare at me on the way out of the airport and feel like an alien. I remember meeting Abhimanyu Singh for the first time, thinking “my luggage is bigger than this guy”, watching him drive in that crazy Indian way, almost running over a guy that was in the middle of the street.
It was a really hot sunny day in July, I hate hot weather, and I thought to myself “I hate hot weather and I decided to live in India. What a “smart” decision.” It was so hot that it was impossible to sleep with any kind of blanket or sheets, and the fan couldn’t be turned off, or the heat would be unbearable.
On my first day I went to the supermarket, people were staring at me and a guy stopped to ask me what my hair color was, because he wanted to get the same coloration for his hair.
I remember taking a rickshaw for the first time, seeing people bargain the price and thinking “I never used to bargain anything…how am I supposed to learn this? It’s so stressful”
I remember going to Mc Donalds and seeing chicken everything. Chicken Big Mac (which is called Big Maharaja Mac), chicken everywhere. Or no chicken at all. I was impressed by the amount of vegetarian restaurants we find around here…in fact it’s easier to find veg than non-veg restaurants. And I wondered how was I supposed to live without red meat.
I remember going to some badly kept shops, seeing the sandy streets with garbage and trying to assimilate everything that was happening.
I remember thinking “How the f* am I supposed to stay here until March? I need to find a way to get through this”. I am too proud to quit or give up, so I knew I had to find a solution, going back home was never an option.
Today, 5 months later, that same guy who picked me up at the airport and was “just an AIESEC guy” became a very good friend, who I know I can count on for all times.
I love the fries with spicy masala at Mc Donalds, in fact, I love Indian food.
I got used to Hindi accent, even started learning some Hindi, already drank tap water hundreds of times, love having meals in dirty places like bus station, that have very tasty food. In fact, street food is just delicious.
Today, I got used to bargaining, and actually enjoy it sometimes. I got used to the heat in a way that my skin doesn’t even burn a lot anymore. I have bollywood music on my ipod and I don’t even miss meat at all.
Today, I have the absolute certainty that if I can manage to live in India, I can go anywhere, and I can do absolutely everything that I want. This is the confidence that India gave me.
Today, March turned into an undetermined date. Here I found a cause, a passion, something I love working for, something that doesn’t feel like work, and I just cannot leave “forever” anytime soon. Here, I found AIESEC.
In fact, forever will never be an option. Even when I leave and go to other countries, this place will forever be in my heart, and I just know I will come back every now and then.
Cheers to the next 5 months!
What a great way to start the week.