Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dear India...

Dear India,

It is 5:20 am and I have been faced with the choice to either sleep for an hour or blog...that's right, I have not yet slept tonight as the craziness of preparing to leave has forced me awake. As deliciously tempting as an hour nap sounds before I have to embark on 24 straight hours of travel, I feel I owe you more than a fleeting thought. So, blog it is.

You and I have gotten to know each other well these past 5 1/2 months. We are more than contemporaries or acquaintances and more like...soul mates, kindred spirits even. As surprisingly different as we are (diametric opposites perhaps), we have found a way into each other's hearts, the good mingled intimately with the bad.

When I first met you I had no idea what to expect. I was scared, excited, thrilled, and on sensory overload. There you were in all your complex beauty; raw, real, and not even trying to hide your flaws. You were intimidating. You were inspiring. You were so foreign from everything I had ever known, yet somehow I felt drawn to you. The more I got to know you, the more I realized how many layers you had...sometimes you withheld yourself in ways that frustrated me and sometimes you revealed yourself in ways that left me in awe. You are a bizarre conundrum, the best part being that you make no qualms about it.

I have to admit, somewhat bashfully, that you have seen every side of me...sides I thought were forever dormant. You saw my tears and my triumphs, heard my laughs and my screams. You broke me down into the tiniest fragments of myself while simultaneously bestowing on me many treasures that will change the course of my life forever.

As much as I wanted to hit and kick you in my moments of turmoil, I admit that your trials presented me a view into the world that I had never seen. Like using alcohol to treat a wound, you burned like hell yet somehow made me better, cleaner, and sent me down the road to healing. You amazed me, surprised me, infuriated me, made me feel on top of the world, made me feel worthless, challenged me, slapped me around, and even made me physically ill...but the most valuable thing you ever did for me was teach me.

I can't say for sure why you chose me to come here, but it's undeniable that you did. I'm sure in due time I will gain more understanding of everything I have seen and done with you, even the parts I don't like remembering much.

As I now prepare to leave you, it is with a bitter-sweet spring in my step. I am ready to leave your certain oppressions and sufferings yet I am afraid to fly ahead for fear I may have missed something you wished to show me. I take great comfort in knowing that you will always be a part of me, no matter where this life may lead, and will therefore never cease to affect my very being. You are curious and unique and though I will never understand you completely, I will never stop appreciating you. Thank you for touching parts of my heart that I almost forgot existed.

You have been life's greatest challenge in my quarter century of existence, yet somewhere inside I know you have also been life's greatest gift.

With the deepest of sincerity and gratitude,


Friday, May 14, 2010

Milk was a bad choice.

I should be sleeping instead of blogging...but the last several nights I haven't been able to fall asleep until well after 2 or 3am. My goal was to be in bed and asleep by's almost 1am. I guess next time I should adjust for a more attainable goal?

I have been thinking a lot about leaving India and what that means for me in the way of closing this chapter, beginning a new one, and figuring out all the pages in between. I couldn't begin to describe my emotions at my current situation but I do know I'm feeling restless and ready for some of the old familiar. Since no detectible levels of processing seem to be occurring in my cerebral real estate, I will move on to more trivial matters.

A few nights ago I went out to see Iron Man 2. I know this might sound so ridiculous, but I wasn't even aware they had movies playing here that are in English without subtitles. In nearly five months, this is the first movie I have gone to (why didn't I know about this phenomenon earlier?!). We went with a new friend who is Indian-American and is studying at a medical college next door to where we live. Being that she is an American transplant, she understands so much of what we have gone through during our time here. It was refreshing to share some discussions and laughs with someone who gets our cultural nuances.

Seeing a movie here is like crossing the border of a militarized country; they search you and the contents of your bag more thoroughly than a high security airport. I was totally busted when they discovered a bag of gummi bears hiding in my purse; they take their food crimes here very seriously. I watched as they temporarily confiscated my snacks and my digital camera battery...yet made no mention of the relatively large pocket knife keeping company with the always perilous gummi samurais and the radioactive battery laser gun. Go figure. They were lucky I wasn't there to stab the employees and make off with all the rupees I could carry.

The only draw backs to my movie going experience (minus the search and seizure bit) were two wholly obnoxious, loud, and crude guys sitting a couple of rows back from us. They were the only ones in the entire theater who thought they had riotous senses of humor...and trust me, they DIDN'T. If I would have heard ONE more comment about Scarlett Johannson's butt mingling in a sentence with the phrase, "your mom...," "last night...," or "*&$%#"...things might have gotten even uglier than their foul sailor mouths. They were Indian-American, also come back to the motherland to study medicine; God help me if I ever wake up in the ER peering into one of their faces. I shudder at the thought.

It's really no wonder why the world hates Americans, producing such upstanding citizens and all.

With that, it is bedtime. Goodnight, India. Goodnight, America. Goodnight, American dudes living in India studying medicine at a nearby college working so hard at your school assignments that you have zero intellectual activity available for use by the end of the night when you are at the should have stayed at home.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Re-entering the Atmosphere.

Living in India has been hard.

Very hard.

But, today, a taste of "real life" hit me and I was reminded of the world I am about to step back into. I received an email from my student loan company reminding me of a payment due...and suddenly, to my dismay, I was reconciling, adding, subtracting, calculating, planning, calendaring, and spreadsheet-ing.

It's been over four months since I have paid a single bill.

Until today.

And suddenly my life is once again on the verge of the mayhem I couldn't wait to leave behind last winter. This is a prime example of why the Grass is Always Greener Theory is bologna: while I was in the States last year I was working a job I hated in the corporate world and struggling to get on my feet as a new college grad. The idea of coming to India was romantic in it's anticipated simplicity, yet once I arrived and was faced with the realities of this foreign environment, I began to pine for those comforts I left behind. I have since adjusted as best as possible to this parallel universe but this ultimate truth prevails: every situation has its downside and its silver matter where I go and what I do, I will always struggle under varying degrees of discontent.

Simultaneously ending this chapter and beginning a new one in "familiar" life is already starting to present challenges. I am out of mainstream American culture; I am clueless on current events, newly released movies and music, and all other things typical-pop-culture. Where do I begin to reintegrate after becoming so separate and how much do I actually desire to seamlessly fall into the cushy consumeristic lifestyle I once knew? I am disconnected yet longing for my roots; I have yet to find the ideal balance between the two. I desire to stay aware, alert, and sensitive to the world but part of me also looks forward to shutting everything out and sleeping for a week straight to rebuild myself upon returning home. I am stuck somewhere between responsible world-citizenship and feeling superficiality beginning to suck me back into certain aspects of life. How can I live the way I did knowing what I now know?


As I figure it out, in the meantime I want to appreciate everything about India that I like and love while it's still at my fingertips. I am also anticipating many things about the States that I haven't seen/tasted/smelled/experienced for the last 4 1/2 months (it will be nearly 6 by the time I return home...)

-cake (cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries included)
-CHEESEBURGERS (namely those of the In 'n Out and TK Burger variety)
-mom's home cooking
-endless amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables (except cauliflower and potatoes, had my fill of those here)

Beyond food items, I am also looking forward to going to the beach, my friends being only a phone call away, comfy couches, and summer BBQs.

For everything I have learned here and am still learning, the lesson of appreciating all I have been blessed with is a frontrunner at the moment. I am looking forward to feeling embraced and comfortable for a time so that I can restore myself and really begin to absorb all I have collected from this endlessly difficult, beautiful, and complicated culture.

I can't think of anything else thoughtful to say, I fear I am too overwhelmed with thoughts to birth anything more that's even remotely cohesive. Adding insult to injury, I am very hungry and completely exhausted. Once again, I have stayed up too late and am allowing myself to be distracted by what's to come. Even if my blog post doesn't reveal my desire to finish strong here in India, I'm truly wanting to make sure I leave a bit of something useful and meaningful behind; I have put in too much to not go out with a bang (for lack of a better descriptive). I have a lot of work to do in the next 14 days.

See you all in 5 1/2 weeks...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Elana & Cory Battle the Spider Mafia.

Watch and be filled simultaneously with terror, sympathy, and hilarity...