I’ve been home for about a month and a half now! I’ve been back at work since December 12th, and tomorrow — Friday — wraps up my second week of school.
I miss Delhi a lot. More than things like the pani puri, metro, rickshaw rides, phalwalas, etc., I miss my host family and my friends. Since I’ve been home my host family has called me three times, just to say hello. I talk to my two good friends quite regularly. One of them went home shortly after I left (that is, to Manipur) and I didn’t talk to him once while he was gone; turns out, there was some upheaval in Manipur during the time so the state blocked the Internet and all SMSs, allowing only phone calls (we talk through WhatsApp). I figured he was busy with his family, but as soon as he got back to Delhi, he explained what had been going on and why he hadn’t talked to me in so long. I really hope my host family and friends can make it out to Hawaii one day; I’d love to show them around and introduce them to novel foods and all that fun stuff. Delhi was easily one of the best experiences of my life, if not the best. I learned a lot about myself there.
School is hard. The MA program in Delhi was really different (though, my advisor did warn me about this). In India there is the BA, MA, MPhil, and finally PhD; as a result, my MA program there was basically an extension of a BA program, which, despite collecting a wealth of knowledge while I was in India from my classes at Ambedkar that I can’t access in Hawaii, it hurt me because I am currently having a hard time adjusting to my work load for my MA program at my home university. I’m sure I’ll balance everything in out by the end of next week.
I’m enrolled in two Museum Studies courses (Museums & Education and Public History & Commemoration; I find the latter far more interesting), a World History seminar, and third-year Hindi. So far, quite honestly, Hindi is giving me the hardest time. While I was in India, I did not hone my Hindi very much. My listening improved by leaps and bounds, but my speaking really took a blow because I was always listening, but very rarely speaking. Since the two good friends I made were from Manipur, they only spoke Hindi when they absolutely needed to; my host family only spoke to me in Hindi occasionally (I understand that it must have been difficult to bring their Hindi down to my amateur level). Very few of my classmates knew that I could understand and speak Hindi, so they never spoke to me in Hindi (and this was not something I bragged about, just in case they did attempt to speak to me and I couldn’t understand). As a result, I’m struggling in class, especially since I have not formally learned Hindi since last May. It doesn’t help that I don’t like the TA. She’s another linguistics scholar from JNU, but she’s different from the other two we had; to me she’s a bit condescending, as if she can’t quite understand why my Hindi isn’t as fluent as one of my other classmates (a Second Language Studies graduate student who taught English in Chennai). She’s also laughed at my mistakes, which is something I don’t think an instructor should do, and which I took very personally and resented. The other two TAs would laugh when I’d make silly mistakes, but they’d never blatantly laugh at a mistake I made purely as a result of a cognitive struggle. I was contemplating dropping the class altogether but this is already the home stretch for me; I’m in Hindi 302 and 302 is the last of the sequence and I know I’d regret giving up just because I don’t like my TA. I’m not quite sure why my professor isn’t teaching my class since she’s no longer on sabbatical. My Hindi class is adding unnecessary work to my already heavy workload (I only need four semesters of a language for my degree) but I want to keep learning it because: 1) I genuinely enjoy learning languages, and 2) Out of spite, I want to do well and “stick it” to my TA. Oh, and since it’s a 300-level course, the course is taught entirely in Hindi which makes it even more difficult for me.
Anyway, I’m happy to be home but I really miss everyone in Delhi. I think of my friends daily. Both of them called me while I was waiting for my flight at the airport and I cried at the gate talking to my friend on the phone, the stranger awkwardly sitting across me trying to avoid eye contact (haha). But my friend and I had all the same courses, and we’d ride the metro home together every day after school (I’d get off at Rajiv Chowk and he’d continue to Hauz Khas). On December 1st, I slept over at his house and we made typical Manipuri food for dinner with his sister and cousins. The next day he took me on a whirlwind Delhi tour since I had done 0 sightseeing the entire time I was in Delhi; we went to the Red Fort and Qutab Minar. We tried to get to the Lotus Temple but we missed it by ten minutes. Driving me home, I asked to go to India Gate but the lights were off (it was about 7:00pm) to show respect for attacks that had occurred in Kashmir. I went home the next day but I managed to go to one of his Church functions a few hours before my flight. I surely did leave a big chunk of my dil in Dilli.