Before embarking on my great adventure to India, I read Mark Twain’s experience in Following the Equator and he described India as, “The one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.” Though I can not articulate my experience quite so good as MT, my first impression of India is that it is a country under construction.
Though I have seen only a small drop of the ocean that is India, just taking a walk down the road or a drive through the country, I am amazed by how the entire state appears to be under construction. Everywhere I look they are rebuilding hotels, clearing out restaurants, and piling dirt and trash on the streets. Some buildings are in decay while others sparkle and shine. I am not sure if this observation is because we are in the off season for tourism, or India is indeed on the “righteous path to development”, or maybe they found out I was coming and didn’t get all of the repairs done in time. Regardless, India may be changing its makeup, but the soul underneath has remained just as Mark Twain saw it.
That would have made a great last sentence but I still have more to say. India is not for the faint of heart. 115 degree weather, NO COFFEE, a minimum of two power outages a day (though the look on a certain person’s face almost makes this worth it), and everyone around you trying to squeeze just one more rupee from your wallet makes India much more of an adventure than a vacation. I do have a point which must be made in India’s favor. If you met me in my pre-India life than you would know that I am the lamest person when it comes to food. For the two years I lived in New Orleans I ate a ham sandwich with a bag of chips everyday, and for this past year in New York I had oatmeal and a glass of orange juice everyday. I have never craved any particular region of food like Thai or Cuban, and normally I prefer either a grilled chicken sandwich or pasta for dinner. Of course I figured this trend would continue here, and for the first three days while my body adjusted to the heat and the jet lag, I did not touch a thing. Literally, I would have a bottle of water and a nibble of bread, while my co interns would devour whatever remained on my plate. HOWEVER, I have now become an Indian food fanatic. Everything on my plate will vanish within seconds, and I even tried the village school lunch today and consumed it all! So while the Italian food industry may take a hit, I am now willing to try other parts of the world’s food. I will have much more to say in the future, but for now goodnight and namaste.
– Evan George