First India Post

This was written in a rush on the night of the first full day in India. I was extremely excited, and just needed to process some stuff. I didn’t write too much about the emotions I was feeling, but … eh, it’s a blog post.

10:12 pm, 8/30/10

I’m writing this from the YMCA Hostel in New Delhi, India. It’s been a whirlwind couple of days; I can’t believe it’s Monday already. That is largely because in the 14 hour flight here, the plane was crossing time zones in such a way that we were flying into the future. August 29th, 2010 felt like about four hours. Maybe. Four very jet-lagged hours.

The plane ride was fine. I hadn’t meant to sleep too much, since we were getting in around 8:30 pm and it would have been nice to just fall asleep as soon as we got here. But it didn’t quite work out that way. The flight attendants were really encouraging us to stick to Chicago time, which I personally thought was kind of whack, but alas. That meant that I couldn’t really turn on any lights to read on the plane. I should have brought my flashlight onto the plane, but that’s just something I’ll have to remember for the trip home.

Upon getting to the airport, I had thankfully met a bunch of people from my program, so we were able to stick close together and get through check-ins and customs just fine. We were met by SIT staff with a big sign, and immediately ushered over to a little airport café where they bought us drinks. I had a lassi, which is an Indian drink that basically consists of milk and some sweetening. It almost has the consistency of a latte, but a little more powdery.

As I’m writing this, I’ve been more or less awake since 3:00 this morning. Clearly I slept too much on the plane – I wasn’t able to sleep when I was supposed to. Most of the other students had a really hard time sleeping last night – it sounds like we all woke up between 3 and 5 am Indian time. The time difference is +10:30 from Chicago, so night feels like early afternoon.

Today consisted of breakfast at the hostel, and then busing over to a conference center where we were introduced to the staff and got the chance to ask questions. They are all wonderful, welcoming, fantastic people. I look forward to getting to know them and drawing on their knowledge of India. After a quick tea break, we went to the monument to Gandhi. He was cremated at this spot in Delhi in 1948.

The monument itself was beautiful, as you can see. The Hindi spells out Gandhi’s last words, and reads “Hey Ram!” meaning “Oh God!” It didn’t really hit me that that was Gandhi until we left the monument – I think it was a combination of jet lag and being a little overwhelmed. We were just a huge mob of American students that didn’t know too much about what was going on. There were many Indian tourists there as well.

We were then taken to a restaurant that served very good South Indian food. It was the first of most likely many “eat with your hands” places. I didn’t get any pictures of the food, but will be sure to the next time I get the chance. Honestly I’m a little relieved that I like the food – I haven’t had too much good Indian in the States, but everything here is just wonderful. I think it will be hard to get used to eating like an Indian – you have to rip apart some fried not-quite-biscuits with your right hand (you don’t use the left) and dip them in various sauces/soups/mixtures to eat. It was spicy, but not too spicy. I’m quickly becoming acclimated to the food (hopefully the heat will be next in the acclimation process).

Tonight we visited an arts and crafts fair for dinner. I had some chicken tikka masala, which was perhaps not the best choice. I tried some of my cohort’s food, and it was much more to my liking. I definitely could have gone for some of the amazing Tibetan, but I just had to have tikka masala. I did end up buying a wallet so that I can better organize my rupees and various cash. It’s nice to be able to separate the money out into its various bills, especially since I don’t know what all the bills mean yet.

Tomorrow we leave Delhi for Jaipur. I think we’re either taking the bus or the train there – we’ve been using the same tourist bus all day, so it might be nice to mix it up and take the train. But I do rather like the bus. Anyway, it’s been a very long day and I should probably hit the sack. Good night!

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