My Favorite Part of India

It’s getting to the point where I can see the end of this endeavor, and it goes without saying that the feeling is bittersweet. I think part of the reason I’m so nervous about going home is because I still can’t articulate exactly what it is about this place that I like so much. It’s frustrating because I don’t have a problem articulating the things here that make me miss my home, like my inability to cook for myself, go in and out of the house whenever I want, communicate with anyone without any problems, not get hassled on the street…

Two weeks ago my host sister asked me what my favorite part about India was and this forced me to think a bit. After stalling for a while and hearing my host dad say “She’s not going to answer!” I answered that the best thing about India is that people are so sincere. I think that more than in the United States, people mean what they say here. I always think back to one of our first days in Jaipur, when we met a tailor who invited our whole group to celebrate an Indian festival with her and her family. Then she actually followed through, called our program director and arranged for all of us to come and have dinner with her family and visit their favorite temple.

Things like that happen all the time here. An acquaintance that I’ve made while hanging around the ghats brought me a book he thought I might be interested in. I asked if I could borrow it to read at home. “Please,” he said. “Never use this word with me. You can keep it!”

I don’t mean to generalize too broadly, because it goes without saying that not everyone in the country acts the same way, and people are probably nicer to me because I’m a “guest” here. But seeing all this has made me think more about my own culture and my own life as well. I think about how often I tell someone in the US, “We should really get together and catch up, I’ll call you” and then never follow up on it. It seems kind of shameful to me now.

There are other things I like about India, in fact I’ve started a list in a journal I keep, but I’ll save all that for another post.

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