So these last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. I flew half way across the world to a place I had never been to before, have moved twice, and am now finally starting to settle into a routine. Since moving from the guest house, or as I have so “lovingly” nicknamed it, the refugee camp, I was staying at before I have settled into a kind of routine. I get up around 8:45, get dressed in my super cool Salwar Kameez, which is a long tunic shirt with lovely billowy pants and matching scarf which is called a dupatta. Around 9:15 I go to the kitchen and eat breakfast with the family I am staying with as a paying guest. Mallika, or Auntie, as all women who are not you mother or real relatives are called here in India, is the woman of the house, and Dimmy, Uncle, her husband. She makes me porridge (oatmeal), or since she has showed me where everything is in the cabinets, has me make it myself. There are always slices of homemade bread, I always have 2, to spread with homemade jam. Around 9:50am I leave the house and go to Raj to begin my research for the day. Once at Raj, I have my standing skype date with Mom and Dad, and around 11 or 11:30am have my daily meetings with either the export department, accounts manageable, or product creation office.
It feels so strange to now have a semi-structured schedule. Around 7 pm I get home and then hang out with Auntie and Uncle and the dog, who consequently is named Osama! I don’t think I had expected life abroad to flow so naturally. It is hard for me to believe I have kind of got the swing of things barely 3 weeks in! I can definitely tell by my level of comfort mixed with just the right amount of caution, though I had none of that as I rode on the back of a motorcycle for the first time ever this weekend, that I am really falling for India.
In my life I have been afforded the opportunity to travel around the world quite a bit. Thanks to the generous financial backing of my family, and the institutions I have attended I have lived in Spain, travelled around Europe and experienced life in the Bush in Tanzania for a summer. Even though all of these adventures have been more than memorable, this Bristol year is definitely different from all of those previous experiences. I can most certainly say that not being under any organizational umbrella in making everyday itineraries is both thrilling and nerve racking. Each day has most certainly been an adventure, be it large or small. I have finally come to accept that it is okay to not know everything, because it is becoming more and more obvious to me that the beauty of life lies in the unknown.
Since being here in India, and embarking on the journey, it has really been like a test of faith. Sometimes I feel like I have blindly stepped off the side of a cliff and am falling through oblivion, yet, I know that eventually I have to land somewhere. My first few weeks here are definitely teaching me to let go of being in control of everything, and start living and experiencing what life has to offer- both the good and the bad. As Morgan Freeman so aptly said in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, “get busy living or get busy dying.” So since being here, I have most certainly “gotten busy living”! I have eaten with my hands, drank the water (and I’m still alive without ailments so far…) crossed the street in oncoming traffic, jumped across the railway platforms, tried to learn Tamil, (which is another entry onto its self), learned to haggle like a professional Tamilian with the autorickshaw drivers, perfected the Indian head bobble, have been attempting to figure out public transport,which seems to be working, and can now dress like a real Indian woman; I wear my Churridar’s and Sawar Kameez’s with grace and poise, and will definitely be bringing this style back to the States! Besides, I even have a new Indian name thanks to the ladies in the office- Dhanalakshmi, which means “wealthy Goddess of wealth and knowledge”.
All in all, I have been enjoying my time here in India immensely, especially learning the ins and outs of the hair trade. Honestly, I don’t think I would have learned as much about Indian culture without learning about hair! Who knew you could learn so much about a people through one basic thing! I look forward to what the rest of my time has in store for me, and hopefully, it will include some temple visits, meditation classes, and yoga!