Friday, October 23, 2015

Ten Things I Learned In India

By: Kristin Kimberlain 

  1. Things as simple as crossing the road can be exhilarating but difficult. There’s tons of crazy traffic with no lanes in big Indian cities, and crossing in front of four or five lanes of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and stray animals is an acquired skill. Once you learn how to do it, you feel like you can do anything.

  2. Never wear your shoes in the house. Or in a religious space. We don’t think much of it here, but it makes sense because shoes get really dirty.

  3. Smells are a really important part of the experience. Walking down the street, it’s typical to pass by a heap of garbage and feel really disgusted by the smell, but when you turn the corner just a second later, the air can smell entirely like jasmine and camphor—absolutely heavenly.

  4. Cows are amazing animals. Whether you’re encountering a cow on the sidewalk in the middle of a bustling city or grazing by a lake in a wildlife reserve, it’s nice to be able to pet them and talk to them. They’re so docile and can really help center your nerves in an unfamiliar place.

  5. South Indian food is delicious. Meals are always an experience because of the diversity in flavors and spices that you experience every single time you eat. Using your hands as utensils is really fun, and fluffy Keralan rice is a hundred times better when it’s covered in ghee (clarified butter!)

  6. Bargaining is an art form. Don’t get ripped off in the market or by a rickshaw driver! Know the price you’re willing to pay and stick to it. Once you’re a good negotiator, you feel like you can run the world.

  7. Indian laundry services are enviable. It’s so nice to be able to send your clothes away for half a day at a hotel and have them come back crisply folded and neatly organized. It’s also incredibly cheap!

  8. The friends you make in India are really important. Going to India with a group of students was an awesome bonding experience. We had so many hilarious encounters and overcame challenges together, and the friends that I made there are still encouraging me and laughing with me in my life back at home.

  9. Learning about people who are different from you is incredibly fulfilling. South Indian culture is really different from US culture in so many ways that I could never imagine before actually going there. India is an extremely diverse and really complicated place, and knowing about differences makes the world so much richer.

  10. “Fearlessness is heaven even in a moment”. This was painted on a wall along with lots of other inspirational phrases outside of a church in Chennai that we walked by almost every day. India teaches you  to be fearless and know yourself, which is the most valuable lesson you can learn for being the best person you can be both abroad and at home.