I’ve been in Delhi for eight days now. I already want to get out of the city. Delhi is so crowded and busy and I’m totally not the city type. Don’t get me wrong – Delhi is fun and it’s quite charming in its own way, but I’d like a break soon. The girl who is with me on this study abroad program booked two tickets for us to Dehradun next weekend (it’s a three-day weekend in observation of Independence Day). We’ll leave and take an overnight train to Dehradun and arrive at 5:00a on the morning of the 13th. Our host dad runs a tourist business so he has a lot of connections, and luckily, he has one in Masuri where we will be staying. After an hour-long bus ride, the nephew of the person in charge of the travel company our university is using will meet us up in Masuri. He’s our age and has been seeing us every so many days to show us around. He’s from Dehradun, too, which will be great once we return to Dehradun on Monday for our train back to Delhi. He took me to Agrasen Ki Baoli today. In short, Delhi is great but quite crazy and I’m ready for a break.
I only have one contact of my own in Delhi, and that is my Hindi TA. He is from Maharashtra but works in Delhi, so I’ve been able to see him twice since arriving. He got back to Delhi just a few days before I arrived. He brought a nice guitar (valued $1,500+) to Hawaii from home but couldn’t bring it back since he did a cross-country trip from Washington to Florida then did a Europtrip from Spain to Germany before getting back to Delhi. He cherished the guitar but was willing to part with it; I offered to bring it back because I didn’t want him to sell it as he had planned (I’m quite sentimental). Anyway, he’s from Aurangabad and offered to host me in his hometown for three to four days to show me around. A ticket from Delhi to Aurangabad is roughly Rs. 10,000 – 11,000 right now, which I can’t afford on my budget at the moment (I mean, I could, but I shouldn’t). The plan right now is for me to fly to Mumbai during Dussehra (I’ll have a week off from school) and from there go to Aurangabad via train and return to Mumbai to fly back to Delhi. He has a friend in Mumbai who has offered to put me up for a few days. He’s been really helpful since I’ve been here. I didn’t think he cared for me too much but I think that was me just being paranoid. My birthday is right before Dussehra so he’ll be joining me in celebration. Initially I told him that I wanted to go to Hauz Khas Village for my birthday and we settled on Summer House, but after a few minutes he suggested 4S in Defence Colony since the crowd is “better.” By “better,” he means less hipster. It works out anyway since I wanted Chinese food before leaving Hawaii but couldn’t get it since the dim sum restaurant near my house closed. The beer and food there are cheaper, too. And Chinese food is always great.
My classes formally start on Monday. I went to campus on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of last week for an array of reasons. I finally met my MA History batch of students on Friday and I like them. I’m hoping I’ll make friends – I’m very quiet and I usually don’t make friends easily. Before leaving for Delhi, many people who had been to India (including professors and classmates) told me that most people wouldn’t view me as a foreigner, but someone from Northeastern India. I’m finding this to be very true as all of the acquaintances I’ve made at school have been from Nagaland and Manipur (and thought I was also from there).
Initially, I had booked my ticket for July 27th – December 17th. The study abroad program ends on December 3rd. At the time, my plan was to travel extensively by myself, mainly through South India. I had two slight mental breakdowns earlier this week and this morning, I called to change my flight. The woman with the company put me on hold for twenty minutes which effectively exhausted all of my talk time on my prepaid phone. My boyfriend was nice enough to call and stay on the phone for two hours (TWO. HOURS.) to change my flight and even put the charge on his card after I told him to use mine (a painful total of $1,052). I know I didn’t give India enough time, but I don’t see myself being that adventurous now that I’m here. First of all, I can’t “rough it” enough to go camping on a beach on the North Shore in a tent back in Hawaii, and I really can’t “rough it” enough to use these squat toilets or toilets with no toilet paper or toilets that look like they haven’t been cleaned since they were installed. My mom’s craziness about germs has been passed on to me (although, not to the same extent). India is great but I can’t deal with the public restrooms right now. Also, I’m just too distrusting of people. All of the bad stories my coworkers, friends, and family put in my head before coming here really affected me and I don’t want to travel alone for two weeks. I know most people here mean absolutely no harm, but I’m too paranoid to even put myself in a situation where I could be put in a dangerous situation even though it’s all in my head. I’ve been ripped off a couple times by rickshaw walas (or today, a man selling purses in Palika Bazar) but they haven’t been malicious, and even though I paid more than what I should have, I contributed in some way to their living.
But back to the point, it isn’t India that’s making me leave. I just really miss home, and I have a lot of things to go back to. I love seeing my mom and brother every day, I love falling asleep and waking up next to my boyfriend and dogs, I love seeing my coworkers. I have so many things at home waiting for me. The girl who is with me is different. She’s from San Diego and has been in Hawaii for school for the last four years, she’s single, most of her roommates moved back to the mainland, and she moved out of her apartment right before she left. She’s a lot less attached than I am. We’re both having fun, but she’s definitely having more fun and she’s more adventurous. I know that changing my flight doesn’t help my effort to become more independent and outgoing, but I know where I belong, I think. I’m an introvert, I’m quiet, I’m a homebody, and I only need my family…so, a typical person from Hawaii (haha). My cousin is also having her first child – a boy – while I’m away (right before Halloween) so I really want to see him as soon as possible, too. I’m having fun, but I know that I’m incomplete without my family, I guess. My boyfriend has told me that although he misses me, he thinks I should get my mind out of Hawaii so I can fully enjoy Delhi. We both think I’ll become less preoccupied with Hawaii once school picks up and I’m thrown back into my studies.
The last big development is that my boyfriend is no longer my boyfriend, but my fiancé. Our anniversary was on July 20th and that was literally the last day I expected him to propose to me because I thought it was very cheesy. We walked around Waikiki (and went Pokemon hunting…) and had dinner at an izakaya-style Japanese joint. We went to the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center looking for dessert and after a misunderstanding about dessert which left me grouchy, regretting buying a mediocre yuzu tea and staring wistfully at the Island Vintage Coffee shave ice stand I didn’t know existed at the base of the escalator from which I descended after buying said mediocre yuzu tea, he pulled a really beautiful .75carat three-stone princess cut ring out of his pocket. I stared at him for probably a minute straight before saying anything. He did get on one knee but I told him to get up as to not attract too much attention to us. It turns out that he actually does listen to me when I talk sometimes! I had only mentioned on one or two occasions that I like three-stone princes cut rings. We’ve been together for five years. For the better half of this year, I was really absent and our relationship suffered greatly because of it. He was always trying to spend time with me and I just wouldn’t concede for one reason or another. One night, I sat down and basically told him that I thought we should stop seeing each other for a number of reasons, and all he could say was that he didn’t want me to give up on him and that he loved me so much and just wanted me to give him more time. After someone who’s treated you so well for five years looks at you, extremely hurt, and basically says “even though you may not love me anymore, I’m still head-over-heels in love with you and will wait until you feel the same again” (not his words, but the gist), you really reevaluate things. I really have someone great, and he was so kind to me even after all of the times I had ignored him, snapped at him, and disregarded his feelings and desires because my mind was somewhere else.
Our wedding is in the works for next summer, either July or August. Half of my family is in Washington and most of his immediate family (save his dad) is there as well, so we’ve asked my cousin to host our wedding at her home in Issaquah and she said she’d love to. Her house is right up against the mountain and she has a very large deck that can accommodate a little over twenty people. We don’t plan on having more than just our immediate families and his best man and my maid of honor (who is actually my friend Nick, who’s been my friend since we were eleven). Her home is really beautiful. I suggested having the wedding there as a joke but everyone in my family loved the idea, and Washington is a special place for us, so having our wedding in Washington and on my cousin’s backyard deck will make everything even more special. We also plan to cook all the food ourselves since there won’t be more than fifteen of us at the most. I also don’t want to spend too much money on the wedding for obvious reasons, and I only want family there because I don’t want to mingle. I want my wedding day (ours, excuse me) to be about homecooked food and the company of family.