I am currently in hour 21 of my 28 hour journey, flying from Kuwait City to Bangalore. I am the only white person on this plane.
I feel strangely comforted by that. I have always been drawn to doing things that were unexpected of me. I’ve always wanted to travel to the kinds of places where I could be completely immersed in a culture, a language, a people; I crave it. So, here I am. I'm sitting on a plane surrounded by people of all different ethnicities, nationalities, and religions. I have no notion of when I'm going to return home and I have even less of an idea of what my future holds. I understand that to most sane people, that might sound terrifying. Luckily for me, all of my sanity went out the window quite some time ago.
Fast forward four hours and I’m sitting in a taxi on my way to Mysore, India: my home for the next six months. My body has lost all comprehension of time, but my mind is wide awake. This three-hour car ride is my first look at India. We arrived just before sunrise, so the longer we drove, the more people began to start their day.
Monsoon season just ended, leaving trash scattered through the streets. The stray dogs looked cleaner than I thought they would. I noticed myself looking at the chipped paint and crumbled exterior of seemingly-dilapidated buildings, only to pass by their open doors and see lights on in fully-furnished homes. These worn facades mixed in with colorful temples of multiple faiths.
Men and women of all ages opened up their street carts and prepared for the day. Vendors selling fruits, vegetables and chai lined the streets. Locals on their way to work congregated around carts to grab breakfast and tea on their way to school. I did a double-take down a small residential street when I saw a cow grazing in the middle of the road. I would soon learn that cows in the middle of the road might just be the most normal thing to happen in India. And it all worked together somehow.
By the time I was eating idli, medu vada and samba (steamed rice cakes, savory “donuts” and spicy, lentil based stew) for breakfast in Mysore at 8:30 a.m., my body was quickly realizing that I had been catapulted into a time zone nine and a half hours ahead of Philly. Ouch. I’m overwhelmed, but in all of the best ways. I’m still figuring all of this out, but this is certainly going to be a crazy year and I can’t wait to share it with all of you.
For weeks now, I haven’t really known the answer to the question that everyone seems to want to know- “Are you ready?”
The truth is, I don’t think anyone is really ready to move to India. I’ve read books, I’ve watched movies, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read every single backpacker blog post that exists about India. But, from the moment I decided to go, I knew that no one is ever really ready for India; nor should they be. But, she is always ready for you.
So…here goes nothing.