Thursday, October 22, 2009

What India Teaches Me

In the two short months I have been in India, I have learned so much, and yet I still feel so young, so unknowing, like I am just a child whose eyes have barely opened. I go to the college every day, and I study economics, psychology, history, Hindi, and other varied classes, but I don't feel like I absorb very much there. I try and learn other things, outside of college - I have a yoga class at 7:30 in the morning, and I practice rangoli, or sand art, and my neighbor often teaches me mehendi, or henna tattoos. And I learn other things, that I have just picked up in everyday life - I can eat neatly with my hands, I can wear a sari with some semblance of grace, know a few simple words in Hindi and Marathi, I am beginning to understand Hinduism, I can manage adequately in everyday life without too many social blunders. But these are not the important things I am learning here. India is a great teacher, and if you can be a willing student, your education will never end.
I learn to be patient, to sit quietly and wait, for hours sometimes. I learn to be quiet, because often, people do not have enough English to have a conversation with me. I learn to watch, because it is the only way I can understand, and I learn to listen, because if I do not pay attention, I will miss the important things. I learn stillness, in my mind and my body, so that I might learn meditation. I am learning peace, and understanding, and a deeper happiness than I thought I would obtain here in India. I am learning joy in the small things - I can confidently cross the road, I can argue with a rickshaw driver, I can write my name in Hindi, I can, I can, I can. I am learning positive thinking, and detachment from what frustrates me. I am learning simplicity. I have come nowhere close to perfecting these things, and I am sure I never will, but already I feel that I am changing. Here in India, I am a different person than I ever was at home. And right now, I am not sure that this me would last in the US, where frustration, depression, and impatience run wild, but I hope that by the time I have to return, this new me is more solidly a part of me, so that I can continue to grow in this new direction.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Physics in India

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, and I know everyone is going crazy to hear about my exchange, but it's been difficult to take the time to write out a blog post. While I have been doing so many blog-worthy activities, this one is just sort of generally about India. I'm pretty sure that there are different laws of physics in India. Things work here that somehow just wouldn't work back home.

I can wear my fancy white traditional salwar out, all day in the filthy and crowded streets of India, and somehow not get it dirty at all

I have discovered that my stomache holds about three times as much food as I ever thought it could. Even when you have eaten so much that it feels like more will make you throw up, you can somehow find room.

I go to bed around midnight quite often, and get up at 6:30 for yoga at 7:30, and then go through the whole day without a nap and manage to be in a pleasant mood.

I have found so much patience. I sometimes sit for hours while people sit around me and chat in Marathi, and it's all ok. Or if someone says they will pick me up in half an hour, I can comfortably wait an hour and a half without getting frustrated.

Somehow, I manage through the seemingly unbearable, sweltering heat. Not only do I manage, I go out and walk around town and stay active all through the day, even though it's at 90 degrees quite often.

I can eat basically anything using only my right hand. no utensils, no left hand, just me and my fingers. And I can do it neatly.

It all just seems so ridiculously crazy sometimes. I have done things I never even thought I would see, much less be part of. I have learned so much, but not in school. This is a wise culture, with lots of wisdom to share. I have learned patience and acceptance, and I am learning how to be open with my thoughts and feelings, because in India there are no secrets. I feel that with every day I find myself more, and I never even knew I was lost. I can feel the change in myself, and it's odd to think of going home, because I know I will be so different and have experienced so much, and I'm afraid Homer will still be basically the same. But at this time, it's hard to even imagine going back. I sometimes get a nostalgia for things at home, but at the same time I know it doesn't apply to me anymore, and it's not really that important. Alaska is a universe away, and it just seems to fade in my memory. Sometimes it feels like all there ever was, and all there ever will be, is India. Which is almost an OK thought.