I journaled a list of my “First Impressions Of India” as I flew from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai and Mumbai to Goa. I have debated whether or not to blog them, but I find them amusing, so I’m going to. The goal is certainly not to offend anyone by my preconceived notions, this is simply my stream of consciousness. What I observed and how it compared to things I had been told or had expected before arriving in India. I’m just going to write these things exactly as they appear in my journal, because some of them made me laugh out load as I was looking back.
- It smells normal and everything and everyone is clean. Really like that. Much different than some places I’ve been.
- The people are strikingly beautiful. The men are tall, the women are dressed to the nines and their make up is perfect. I’m definitely a little out of place.
- The bathrooms are super clean! I even washed my face. Also way different than those other places.
- People are BEYOND nice and helpful in the airports. Everyone has gone out of their way to give me directions when I look lost, and people literally ushered me through to “cut them” in the customs line when one man said that my layover was too short to make it through. I mean every single person.
- Everyone takes of their shoes a lot, maybe I should be used to that coming from Japan- but I mean a lot and everywhere.
- It’s the craziest security screening I have ever been through. They made me take out every electronic item I have including each of my camera lenses, my phone, my ipad and everything had to be searched. I was also separated from all of my things which made me incredibly nervous while I went through a partitioned off “ladies security” screening, but when I was reunited with my things (after having to take a number and wait my turn for them to all be searched) everything was in place. One point, India.
- I had to take a bus from one terminal to the next and got a mini tour of Mumbai. The men I was with explained that the slums are always built around the airport. (Sidenote: after reading Shantaram while in India I discovered that slums are often constructed around anywhere that is under construction- awesome book and if you have even the slightest interest in India- it’s a must read)
- It’s also unbelievable to see people living under cardboard, leaning against corrugated metal, leaning against a tree, cordoned off by a sheet. I’ve never seen anything like it.
- Also I think it’s a little weird that people use the term “slum” as a proper term to describe these areas. I mean I knew that was a thing but I thought it was more slang than anything else… I definitely thought it would be improper for me to call it a slum. I guess not.
- I really wish I had the opportunity to get off this bus and look around and meet some of these people.
- Didn’t realize that everyone spoke English. Kind of feeling like a foolish American right now. No clue English was the official language. I’m an Idiot.
- I’ve never seen terrain like the terrain we are flying over from Mumbai to Goa. It’s all canyons and stone mountains and it’s giving me all the good goosebumps. I’m so excited to be IN INDIA.
- Just landed and found my driver and I’m pretty sure I just got robbed at the money exchange counter but I was too tired to make a big fuss. I think it was less than $200 and I’m trying to write it off as an experience, but half of me wants to go back and give a piece of my mind to the girl who distracted me with all her “Ohhhh movie star” bullshit while the man was counting my money. I knew what was happening and still couldn’t fight it. I need to sleep.
- The buildings are all painted dozens of bright colors. Pink next to green, next to orange, next to blue. It’s beautiful.
- Just arrived at our house. It’s not a part of the yoga shala which is disappointing, but I will figure that out tomorrow. My roommate is a 23 year old trance dj. I didn’t even know what trance was. Feeling a little old, but she’s adorable and maybe I can introduce her to Van Morrison and we can rock out together.
- Also the drive from the airport was far but the kid who drove me was sweet so I couldn’t sleep- had to talk. He asked me if I was in a “love marriage” or an “arranged marriage”. I liked the sound of love marriage. It’s nice to think of our marriage that way. As we were talking about it we drove by a huge crowd of cars, motorbikes and people parked on the side of the road. Our windows were down and one man made a slicing motion across his neck. For a second I defaulted to the “I’m about to be kidnapped” fear, but we drove on. When I asked him what had happened he said, “Suicide. Hanging girl.” My eyes opened wide and I said, “What?” incredulously. And his response was, “Or maybe hanging man, don’t know.” Then he went on talking about love marriages. Let me say again: What?!?! Apparently this is common place. Must make a note to ask someone else about this tomorrow.
- Must sleep now. I have never been so tired In. My. Life. I feel like I’ve been drugged and the whole world is tipping and spinning. I’m so excited to go to bed I don’t even care that the blue porky pig pillow case is threadbare or that I’m pretty sure the mattress is made of pine needles, seriously I pulled one out thinking it was a feather that was poking me, but it turned out to be a twig. Don’t care. Must. Sleep.
So there you have it. “First Impressions of India with Mindy” both on the journey and up to the moment that my head hit that pillow and I got the best night’s sleep of my life.
I woke up the next morning and wrote: “This bed is hard. Like hard-hard. A four inch pallet of twigs on wood wrapped in a fitted sheet with only a sarong to sleep under. The pillow cases have holes so I covered the pillow with a tshirt and used the Etihad blanket I went back and forth about stealing. My bed at home is good. Like good-good. But the best sleep of my life goes to India.”