Wow. Wow. Wow. India has been so much different than any other country I’ve experienced. The chaos of the environment is something completely foreign to me. Yet entirely amazing. Right off the ship, we were hit straight in the face with the cultural differences.
The food has been beyond incredible. I loved Indian food prior to this trip, but being here has really put my obsession over the top. Everything is so flavorful and deliciously spiced. All the meat is incredibly tender and has been cooked in various gravies for hours. You just eat it over rice or with Naan and it is sooo incredible. I’ve been really enjoying all the vegetarian options as well; lots of yummy veggies and beans. The desserts are especially good. Yesterday, I had this fudge-like thing that was the most delicious dessert I’ve eaten the entire semester.
India has been the most eye-opening, perception changing port as of yet. It is by far the most different culturally and structurally. I feel as though my current conceptions about life, spirituality, poverty, inequality and values will shift in the coming weeks as I process the experiences I’ve had in this amazing country. The amount of poverty and disease that stares you in the face here is almost too much to bear. One of my professors told us to “look at all around you, but don’t stare at the things you see”. This is the perfect description of how to see India. There are so many things that I felt I needed to look at (ie people with leprosy or elephantitus, begging children, and ‘strange’ Hindu rituals) that truly shocked and occasionally appalled me. It is part of the learning and experiences that come with life in India, even if it seems awful. These are the kinds of experiences that will change my entire perception about my life and the things I value.
At the same time, there were so many beautiful things about the culture that I’m so thankful I got to see. The hospitality was unbelievable. The people couldn’t be more excited to talk to us. And the culture; wow, there is just nothing like it. From the beautiful saris to the street chaos and noise, all of it is completely foreign, but beyond incredible. India has been such an amazing place and it will likely be the port that I learn the most from. I couldn’t be happier about my experience here and I look forward to the future when I can return to this amazing place.