As is expected with my typical blogging lag (blag? hmmmm), I've been back in the U.S. for a week now, despite cancelled flights, lost luggage, and other misadventures. It's been weird adjusting; obviously I'm happy to see my family, my friends, and my home, but I feel like I've been living in India for a lot longer than two months. I still tend to walk on the left side of the aisle or sidewalk; my first impulse is to say "mail" instead of "email" and sign things with "warm regards" instead of "sincerely"; I've taken to adding cayenne pepper to various American foods because they're just too bland. I sometimes start to say thik hai instead of okay, and when I have online conversations they degenerate into the slang and abbreviations my Indian friends use. The transition from (almost) no white people to (almost) all white people has also been weird; I don't get stared at anymore, and I'm not any kind of minority. People understand me when I talk, and I don't have an American accent because everyone else does too.
However, I haven't had much time to think about it. I've been incredibly busy ever since my plane touched down at midnight Sunday night. There's so much to get ready for fall: the Katzenjammers are coming to my house for beachweek, so my mom is OCD about me cleaning stuff in ADDITION to finding gigs, finishing arrangements, planning rehearsals, and figuring out how the heck I'm going to entertain twelve college students for a week in exciting central PA; I'm hitting garage sales and Walmart for stuff for my apartment in Spelman this fall; I'm still unpacking and organizing everything, and packing again for school; tutoring my little sister and her friends to prepare for the SAT; practicing piano to get ready for a class I'm taking this fall; having lunch with this old friend and that before everyone heads off to college again; working out my finances for the fall with princeton financial aid and signing off on the Charter contract; finding course equivalents and getting approval and figuring out my studying abroad in the spring, because I have to apply for everything as soon as I return to school.
So you can see, there's a lot to do. Being in India was much easier in that respect. However, even standing on its own . . . this was an incredible summer, and one of the best of my life. I gained valuable work experience, traveled around a remarkable country, and made some lifelong friends. I'm extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity I had to do this; I am truly blessed.
I do miss India very much though; I'm surprised at how much I love the country, its culture, and its inhabitants. I'm determined to return someday, whether or not it's anytime soon. I'll close this chapter of my life with an entry in my journal, written on the runway as my plane took off from the Bangalore airport en route to Frankfurt. The prose is overly romanticized and trite, but the sentiment behind it is real. I will return to India someday . . . that's a promise.
Until next time--
After two and a half months in this mysterious, surprising, amazing country, I sit on a runway bound for Germany and then the U.S., contemplating and remembering my time here.
I feel a deep sense of attachment to India, a sort of acknowledgment of the spell it's cast on my life for the past 10 weeks. Although I have no blood connection here, I find myself identifying with-- no, more than identifying with-- truly a part of the Indian culture and lifestyle. I want to know and do and be everything that is India. I am determined to return someday, whether it takes me months, years, or even decades.
Leaving campus for the last time was surprisingly even more difficult than saying goodbye to each individual. I guess the geographic entity represents more than just Infosys; it represents the whole of the experience I've had here, and most of all the people with whom I experienced it and my own immense personal growth that resulted from my interaction with them. I still can't believe it's over; the whirlwind of goodbyes gave no closure to what was the most incredible summer of my life thus far. I'm not ready to return to a world of bland food, pristine and gleaming cities with a minimum of traffic, easy and convenient travel, people who understand me when I talk, and streets that are free of litter and livestock. I feel as though I have just begun to grasp the feel and the tricks to life here. Ironically, today was the first day I was completely confident alone in the city, navigating and speaking and living. I wasn't terribly skilled, but I am learning and enjoying the process. It doesn't seem fair to end it all now.
I will sorely miss this place, this country that burrowed into my heart and rooted there when I was looking the other way. Or perhaps I was fully aware that I was developing an impossible love: love of a country that could not be more different than my own. Perhaps I was setting myself up for this from day one.
All I know is that India has infected me somehow, and whether or not I return anytime soon I will carry a little piece of India with my always. You might find me hovering around a SASA studybreak, criticizing the quality of the free Indian food; sitting at a Hindi language table, confused out of my mind but determined to continue my study; watching a Bollywood movie with (or maybe without) subtitles; listening to the newest A.R. Rahman soundtrack with due appreciation; and in general, giving in to the hold this country now has on me and doing my best to survive until I can return someday.
the gang at mocha, sometime in the middle of the summer
George with student mentors Priya, Preeti, and Anjali
Madhav and me :)
Madhav, Devanshu and Tejas after Tejas's successful presentation
Tejas and me, final goodbyes :(