The Umbrella of Wisdom

Oh My God This Is It!!! I am at the airport about to begin my long journey home. I feel like I have won an Oscar and should give an acceptance speech to all of the people that helped me make it this far, but instead I am sure you all are dying to here my final thoughts on India. If you are reading this post with the expectation of another tirade about the food here you will be disappointed. Let us instead watch as I try to make the title of this post make sense.

It is no secret that India and I have not got along as well as NYU, who set us up on a two month long blind date, would have liked. Between the heat, the diet, the gender relations, and the overaggressiveness of beggars, tok-tok drivers, and street venders (A few nights ago I found myself yelling at a group of Muslims and Hindus who were trying to cheat us out of 200 rupees for our bags, they didn’t get it, but at least I joined the two groups together in their anger at me. Just doing my part for peace). I am sure that If India had its own blog it would have complained about me too, so nobody’s fully at fault here. However, I am leaving India while wearing a Be Human t-shirt (a popular NGO based brand), listening to the Rowdy Rathore soundtrack (biggest movie in India right now), with nothing but good things to say. How is that possible? Let me tell you the story of my umbrella. 

So around three weeks ago when the Monsoon finally hit, I began bringing my umbrella around with me. One random day, I decided to walk to Celebration Mall to get a cup of coffee. I was listening to my music, trying to mind my own business, when some middle-aged man on a bicycle stops next to me and begins yelling pointing at my waist. Instinctively, I don’t even turn my head or take my headphones off. I simply say, “Nahi, Nahi” (NO, NO), and continue walking. Despite my rudeness, the man continued to pedal next to me. This time I turned and more forceable yelled, “NAHI, NAHI!” But the man continued to point at my bag and the ground. I took off my headphones and turned around to finally see what the man was pointing at. It was my umbrella laying on the ground around 15 feet back. 

The same thing happened a few days later. I found myself sitting in some small shop while Mike and Sarah were buying some “Hip” bags to wear around Brooklyn, and 10 minutes later as we were walking to go home, I realized that my umbrella had fallen out of my bag again (I don’t know why I can’t work a zipper either). I was going to just leave it behind for two reasons. First, I bought it from a homeless man for 4$ in NYC; and second, if the shop owner found it he would certainty lie or try to charge me for it. But, remembering my prior experience, and not wanting to get wet, I walked back. As I approached the store the man saw me, and instantly ran inside. I thought, “great he’s going to make me chase him to get my umbrella back,” but instead he came running out with my umbrella in hand, trying to explain in his broken English that he tried looking for me but couldn’t find me. I thanked him and thought to myself, “Wow, I’ve been a ****” (Fill it in for yourself, I thought of 6). 

This got me thinking, how do we really measure our experiences in life? I can rate India on a political, developmental, and economic scale; talk about the things that were different and the things that were the same; show you pictures of the things I loved; or tell you stories of the things I hated; but in then end, none of that has as much impact on our experiences as the relationships we formed, those precious one-on-one interactions that we get to share together. Mike’s host family let 5 random white people destroy their kitchen to cook a gigantic 3 course Italian dinner from scratch, and just laughed while watching. Shalendra (I am definitely misspelling his name) was my translator and guide who literally made the difference between me interviewing 48 people or 3. I got to spend the summer with 4 of the most amazing people I have ever met: Alice, Steph, Sarah, and Mike, sharing our victories and defeats together, but always finding a way to laugh no matter which.

What I’ll remember about India won’t be me wanting a hamburger or a faster internet connection; it will be the times at the Pokemon bar with my co-interns, and interviewing a village woman who keeps laughing out of embarrassment while trying to hide her face, and shooting pool with the locals hoping I don’t cost anyone their paycheck, and finally learning how to haggle for a fair ride home, and the children running up to me so they can tell their friends they met Brad Pitt.

Our first date may not have had fireworks like we secretly expected, but I’ll give you a call for a second sometime in the future. 

Unless Sarah makes me write another post this will be my last one, thank you for reading and take care!

(Also, I am going to check into my flight and don’t have time to proof read, so if there are more gramatical mistakes than the usual 200 I apologize, but I’m a writer, not an editor!)

– Evan George

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