An August in Delhi

I’ve been in Delhi now for a few days shy of a month.  I’ve been racially yelled at by men on a moped (“ching chong” means the same thing everywhere, even when you’re Japanese), I’ve been bumped/pushed on the metro numerous times, I’ve fallen victim to the sudden monsoon rains more than once, I’ve been ripped off by autowalas, I’ve confused people with my broken Hindi (surprisingly, after two years and hours of classroom time, I was at a loss trying to buy a watermelon), and I’ve been stared at walking back from the gym in a pretty modest tanktop.  But nothing was more difficult than my first month here in terms of dealing with being away from my mother, fiance, and dogs.  After about a week here, I called to have my return flight changed from December 17th to December 3rd.  The person on the other end put me on hold for twenty minutes, effectively using ALL of my minutes (especially since it was international), so my fiance called in my place and sat on hold for two hours to change my flight.  In retrospect, this was done very soon and without really giving Delhi a chance.  But for someone who’s never been away from home or their family for more than two weeks, waking up half a world away with the knowledge that you’re stuck there for almost five months is terrifying.  Nothing is wrong with Delhi, I was just extremely homesick.  Now that I’ve adjusted, I’m disappointed in myself for shaving two weeks off of my stay, but I’ll do my best to make the most of my remaining time here.  I was coming home on the metro today and as we crossed over the Yamuna, I began to think about how lucky I am to be here.  Once I really just thought — excuse me — “fuck it, you’re here,” things got a lot easier.  And by “fuck it, you’re here” I also mean adjusting my Western mind and forcing myself to use squat toilets (my host home has Western toilets, as has every home I’ve been in here).  Life is a lot easier when you aren’t perpetually anxious about using the restroom, especially when, for two days out of the week, you’re in school for seven hours and all of the restrooms in your building only have squat toilets.

So, what have I been up to?  Over Independence weekend, my roommate and I went to Dehradun and Mussoorie.  Our friend/guide from the travel company is from Dehradun (as is our host family) so he was able to show us around a bit.  His family owns a sweet shop there as well.  Mussoorie was beautiful and I was sad to return to Delhi and the Delhi heat.  Other than that, school has kept me rather busy.  I joined a gym near my house last week and have been going regularly.  The staff is really friendly and the trainers are great.  I’ve made friends in school and I went to Majnu ka Tila after class today with one of them and we had an early dinner at Ama (mala tofu, chili garlic paneer, chili fried noodles, bok choy, and tingmo) and walked around a bit.  I bought two really pretty bracelets for myself and one for a friend at home.  My roommate just left for Manali so I’ve got the room to myself until Sunday.  On Saturday I’m going to go to Flyp in Connaught Place for an Ayushmann Khurrana concert…and forcing a friend to go with me.  Ayushmann did a short tour in the US right before I left for Delhi, but didn’t come to Hawaii (of course) so I’m very excited that I’ll get to see him here!

My roommate and I are pretty different.  She’s very adventurous and I’m a homebody.  Even our host family has commented on this, and I think I make them feel a little more comfortable since they always know where I am, haha.  The other night, my roommate came home at about 10:00pm (our curfew is generally 9:00pm) and our host father gave her a short lecture about why it’s dangerous for us — anyone generally — to be out in Delhi past 9:00pm unless we’re being dropped off at the front door by a friend or ride service.  But she’s very energetic and always wants to explore, and I’m fine sitting at the dinner table doing homework, watching Netflix up in our room, etc.  I know I need to force myself to go out more, but the house is just very cozy.  I also enjoy the company of my host family.  But I do hope to go to Manali in a bit with my friend (the one who is from Aurangabad), in addition to a Mumbai/Aurangabad trip in October.  I’d also like to visit Jaipur.  Once my friend returns from Aurangabad and settles into his home in Gurgaon, I’ll be spending weekends here and there as well.  I’d also like to visit the Northeast as well…dekhenge.

After a month in Delhi, I’ve grown to enjoy the metro despite being pushed by people who are walking no faster than I am, cycle rickshaw rides, and phalwalas (so convenient).  I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the endless horn-honking or 110% humidity, though.


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