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Luci Travels My first time traveling and I go halfway across the world-One newbie's experiences in urban India

Eating and Sleeping

INDIA | Monday, 19 January 2015 | Views [204]

India is everything and nothing that I thought it would be. I’ve only gotten a taste at this point, but that taste is pretty strong. Traveling there was intense. From Minneapolis to France it was an eight hour flight, and I had a two hour layover in France where I ate sweet pistachio macaroons and listened to Le French speak in their beautiful rhythmic syllables. I took three years of French in high school and can say some phrases, but after stumbling through some awkward dialogue with the macaroon woman, I decided to keep it safe with English. My American-ness couldn’t be hidden for long.

We left Paris and nine hours later were in Bangalore. During those nine hours, we ate probably five meals. I would doze off for a bit and wake up with a tray of steaming food in front of me. It was a little magical, and also French food, so yes I ate all five meals. There was an older Indian woman who sat next to me. For part of the flight she propped her elbows up on the tray and watched the Jungle Book with her chin resting sweetly in her hands.

Some of my group members were on the flight with me, and we all eventually met up at the airport. I was jetlagged and slightly insane. It was 1:00 AM there, and Bangalore is 11 hours ahead of Central US time, so I was almost on the exact opposite sleep schedule. We saw Cheryl, our program coordinator, standing outside with an MSID sign, and I almost felt like crying with relief that a night of rest wasn’t too far away. We had some hot chai and waited for our taxis as stray dogs passed us by, favoring the people with food.

Indian driving is…something. All road rules are really more like guidelines that you can follow if you feel like it. Most Indians don’t feel like it. They’ll swerve, tailgate and drive at full speed towards the back of a huge truck, only to move at the very last second. I was too drowsy to care about my life, so I just looked out the window as my head gently bumped against the headrest.

We woke up the next day and had breakfast, slept until lunch, and had to fight the urge to sleep before dinner. My days will revolve around meals because the food. THE FOOD. Oh my goodness the food. The drinks are milky and sweet, and the food fills your mouth with a symphony of flavors that are spicy and strong. You’re served warm tortillas and use them to scoop up the goodness on your plate. I will never eat better Indian food again and I will treat each meal as it’s my last.

Every Indian I’ve met has been welcoming and friendly. The woman on the plane talked to my roommate and I for five minutes and wanted to know where we were living so she could visit us. Everyone who works in our hotel smiles at our attempts at speaking Hindi and Kannada, and tries their hardest to speak with us in English. All Indians, in most interactions, will do a little head bobble from side to side. I’m still confused as to what it means exactly, but it could mean anything from, “I’m thinking,” to, “you’re welcome,” or even just acknowledging your presence.

I knew India would be chaotic and loud, with smells and sounds I’ll never again experience. Car horns are in constant use and cows moo as they lazily cross the roads, stopping all traffic. What I didn’t know is that there would be pockets of serenity within the chaos. There’s a park next to our hotel that’s like a jungle oasis; children play on the playground underneath big, beautiful green palm trees and other trees speckled with orange blossoms. Even though I’ve seen a small portion, I can already tell it has the potential to be as stunning as it is chaotic, and Indians can be as compassionate as they are foreign to me. I think India will be exactly how I choose to see it, and I can’t wait to see more.

Tags: bangalore, food, india, traffic

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