University of Hyderabad, India
Today is Gandhi's birthday and the very beginning of October, which means that I've been living in India for nearly three months now! And when I say "living in India" I very much mean that I'm "living" here. As in I have a residential permit with the Andra Pradesh government, which, personally, I think is petty damn cool.
However, when I say that I'm "living" in India, it could also be taken that I'm "living life to the fullest" and "living new experiences" and "finding the meaning of life." As of yet, not all of those things are particularly true. I'm still not sure what the meaning of life is... sorry. But I do feel like I'm becoming an Indian, or at least as Indian as a pale American ginger can.
I no longer have to psych myself up about leaving campus and going out into the Indian world. When I first got here, going out into India was an all day commitment. It was, and still can be, exhausting and completely over stimulating. We'd come back to Tagore dirty and irritable from being stared at all day. There would be some weekends where we just weren't up for India, so we'd stay around campus and if we went out it'd be to the more Western parts of the city.
Now I'm finding that I no longer need to be in the "right mood" to face India. I can just pop into the city or Lingampoli (the neighborhood close to campus) to run to the store or for the afternoon, and when I get back I don't feel like I'm totally drained and wiped out. Yeah, I'm still dirty and it's always annoying as fuck when people stare at me, but I've learned to deal with it. While it still bothers me, I've definitely learned to ignore it and go on my way.
In the first couple of days when we first got here one of the women at orientation told us that to properly navigate the Indian streets we needed a third "Indian eye," which Indians were born with but foreigners had to develop. While my Indian eye may not be fully developed, I think it's definitely there. I went to the grocery store in Lingampoli by myself the other day and I was effortlessly, consciencely aware of everything around me. I know how many people were walking behind me, I knew what type of vehicle was coming my way and how fast, but knowing that didn't seem to extol any extra energy. It was all just something I was aware of, as part of my environment.
To learn more about MC Study Abroad Student Harper Ganick’s adventures in India visit http://harperganick.blogspot.com/ to read her blog "There and Back Again: A Ginger’s Tale"