I had no idea what to expect from India, my research of the country before arriving included watching Slumdog Millionaire and reading Shantaram (which I suggest you read if you haven’t). The only thing I did expect was to be shocked – by the heat, the language, the crowds, the food. But none of these things really affected me.
I arrived late in the evening with a friend from my class who I am also working with. I find that anytime arriving to a new city in the dark is intimidating, yet incredibly more manageable with a companion. We eventually found our hotel and went directly to bed, only to rise the following day with endless sunshine and birds chirping from our balcony along a tree-lined street. We were served an “American breakfast” of eggs and toast and then continued the day looking around while people said hello and spoke to us in English! It is extremely busy on the loud and dusty streets, but I guess from traveling through China and other places I wasn’t surprised by it. I found many other similarities that my previous travels had unknowingly prepared me for, such as:
squatter toilets – I might actually use the dozen rolls of toilet paper my mom forced me to bring
being stared at and swarmed like a celebrity – who doesn’t appreciate a little attention?
crazy driving and vehicles – to be explained later
- food roulette – not knowing what your ordering and just hoping for the best
The only thing that shocked me was how nice of a city this is! From my limited research and the various things I have heard, I had built up a filthy, scrambled, endlessly chaotic impression of a city. However after traversing it multiple times while apartment hunting, we came across parks, waterfronts, markets, beaches, nice restaurants and kind people, and finally a wonderful place to live! It took a few days to understand the rhythms of the city but I think I am nearly able to decipher this mayhem (and cross the street safely) to reveal and appreciate the amazing city underneath.