I feel pain poking at me from different points in my stomach, sweat rapidly beading down my forehead and collecting on my upper lip. So, this is India.
I am overwhelmed by the suffocating air, traffic, and stares from people as I walk through the market for the first time. After only two hours of being in the city for the very first time, I feel as though I could easily collapse under this hott Indian sun from all the stress and anxiety enclosing me.
Before coming to India I would spend much of my time daydreaming,watching Bollywood films, and obsessively looking up Google images of Pune City. Looking back, I didn’t take the time to realize that I would be stepping into those same photos.
No longer am I staring at images on my computer screen till my eyes become red and sore, but I am actually here- living, breathing, seeing my life flash before my eyes every time I cross the road, plugging my nose multiple times during the day as the smell of garbage and pollution mix together, and feeling damn awkward and uncomfortable as I try to find my place in this culture, and the world.
2 minutes before the beloved glittering ball dropped in NYC on December 31st, I did something very unusual- I made a New Year's resolution. “I’m going to have more awkward moments this year.”
When making this resolution, I made a vow that instead of picking up my phone mindlessly in a situation when there was nothing to do, that I would just sit and observe. Little did I know that I would be embarking on what is most likely the most formative and awkward experience of my life- and I’m in love with (most) every minute of it.
A wise man once said (not me, sadly) “Life begins outside of your comfort zone”, and now the thought of ever being comfortable or “settling down” makes me uncomfortable.
Sitting on a kitchen floor with 20 other sun tanned women in Saris laughing at me as I try miserably to roll a roti, shyly croaking out my limited Hindi vocabulary and phrases, consistently grabbing food with the wrong hand and being yelled at by my mother, giving my phone to random folks on the street so that they will translate what’s being said on the other end of the call- simply being the “outsider”, the “weirdo” is all so discomforting, yet comforting at the same time.
In one day, even in a minute, I feel like a bag of Costco mixed trail mix (which I think about occasionally) feeling emotions which can only be described as “sweet” and “salty”. I feel my head my head being pushed forward and then back again as this “whip lash” effect has been a constant occurrence in the last two months.
I don’t know how to make sense of it all, or as to what is happening half of the time, but all I can do is throw my hands in the air, and laugh in the face of all the madness- and for that I am eternally grateful.