On November 29th, I’m flying out of Bangalore, spending the night sleeping on my backpack at the Delhi airport and then flying into Kathmandu for two weeks of trekking and three weeks of volunteering at the Timai refugee camp (the same camp lots of my students came from).India has been great. So great! Here are some of the things I loved about this huge, diverse, delicious country.
* Fresh juice every.single.day. Watermelon! Carrot-Ginger! “Sinful Banana”! (the latter is my regular – it’s banana, coffee, a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce)
* Indian Sweets! There are approximately 8 million different Indian sweets and I’ve yet to encounter one I don’t like. And let me assure you, I have been doing my best to try all 8 million.
* School children who work up the nerve to talk to me. Usually involves lots of nudging and stare/smiling and then a question like “Are you from Australia?”
* The occasional camel, standing on a street corner, eating a tree. Obviously.
* Being in Bangalore long enough that I have My Juice Place, My Coffee Shop, My Bangle Place, My Favorite Restaurant, My Internet Cafe. I walk the same route so often the vegetable vendors have taken to greeting me every morning.
* The fact that nearly everything has a vegetarian option. Never in my life have I been able to order absolutely anything off a menu!
* Saris and Salwaars! These Indian ladies are on to something – leggings, scarves, flats, heaps of bangles and comfy tops; I could dress like this forever! And saris somehow manage to be conservative yet sexy. How is that even possible?!
* My students who ask if my hair is real, if they can touch it, if I eat pizza for lunch every day, if I can bring in a picture of my cat.
* Vegetable vendors who wander the lanes of residential neighborhoods with blue carts, selling produce door to door. (How incredibly convenient!)
* Drinking soda out of a glass bottle – it feels so lovely and old fashioned! And it’s actually an appropriate amount of soda, rather than the big-gulps that I’m used to consuming
* flowering trees that drop orange, hand-sized flowers into the street
* Going to the doctor and getting four precriptions within 10 minutes, for $10.
* Showering out of a bucket. I realize this seems totally dire, but I assure you it’s not. It’s somehow oddly gratifying and very … wet?
* The toilet bidet system. The rest of the world owes India’s 1.8 billion inhabitents a huge thank you for not using toilet paper. Can you imagine the impact on the environment? Also, to engage in a bit of oversharing, bidets are quite refreshing.
* Giant trees shading the street
* Vintage tourquise vespas, humming down dirt lanes
* Indian Vh1 and MTV and the fact that they actually play music videos. Like, most of the time. Shocking!
* Not having to tip everyone 20%.
* The woman who sells beans on the street and yells ‘Hi!’ at me every time I walk by.
Have you been to India? What did you love?
P.S. I mailed off all of the ‘thank you’ packages. Will you let me know when you get them? I feel slightly nervous about the Indian postal service!