It's exactly a week since I got here. Yesterday was the first day I felt some what low. I reckon I had a wee batch of homesickness. I felt so strange. I felt as if, everything I'm doing, is happening to someone else. It's like I'm witnessing this from the outside. It can't possibly be me? Is it really? I even looked at my blog, through different eyes, when I logged on just the other day. I got a little bit of a shock and thought to myself: Wouw, who is this? Who wrote all of this? But, of course, I knew it was me.
It was my first day off yesterday, it was Saturday. I had been going non-stop since I got here, up until Friday evening, when me and some classmates went to a few sari-shops where they do all the traditional dressmaking..(which was absolutely beautiful to see by the way..). I was so happy, really I was. We went for some great local food, I ate with my hands, I had chai tea, we got a ride in an "auto" (which are like the Thai Tuc-tuc's; the little vans on 3 wheels that whizz around the cities bringing people from a to b). I was having a ball! I sat on the sofa afterwards, so content. I said it to Anjana..I'm so lucky how great things have been, since getting here. I felt tired but satisfied and excited and happy. Yesterday morning, I was going to go to a temple near the city, a Hindu temple, again with the same group I went out with on Friday night. But I wasn't "allowed" to go, because I wasn't a Hindu. If I went, I'd have had to wait outside alone, for 3 hours, by myself. And apparently the area wasn't a safe one to hang around, especially not a white girl, on her own. So, I was fine with that. I stayed at home and explored our neighbourhood and was chilling out all day by myself. I was eager to get out in to the world..
So I started the day off with a search for a bottle of drinking water. Well, that was a mission! So many street-stalls, with no one behind them. I was asking several people where I could buy water, and everyone was sending me all over the place. Nobody knew or nobody was bothered to give me a straight answer. I ended up walking around a market, which really brought some sights to me which could have scarred the eyes for life: Crippled people were sitting along the sides of the roads, in the mud and dirt and waste. Smells of fresh "stools" were mixed with smells of rotten fish and urine. Beggars were on their hands and knees gathering the gone-off fish which had been thrown to one side by the men working on the stalls. These are sights I've seen before, but it was only in the midst of huge bustling cities.. not 5 minutes down the road from where I live. But, this is India, and this is their reality. I walked along, and finally found somewhere to fetch myself some water!! I felt so primitive, but amazing. My day was made!
Then, the rest of the day, I was feeling somewhat "stuck". It was like I was wanting to apart of their world, but couldn't. I felt disconnected from everything. From this world, from the people here, from people at home. It was like everyone is "out there", but where was I? It's hard to explain. I just wanted so badly to not be an outsider. Couldn't I just blend into their way of living, without any fuss or feelings of being different? Of course I could, eventually. But it's a step that I have to take. I realized it's not something that just comes falling out of the sky. Okay, the plane I came in on, landed me here, but that's not all that's needed. That's only just the start. And now it's up to me to get over that barrier that I could have mentally been holding onto. If I take down that barrier, then won't I not feel like the outsider? Won't I be "in" with their way of living? Won't I feel comfortable and won't I not care how people look either down or up at me, when I walk along the street? Won't their stares be meaningless and not phase me one bit? If I choose, then of course I can do all of this. I don't need to worry about how it will happen, because if I want, it will simply be natural and continue along the same path as it has done, so far.
I have all these wonderful people around me. I have these amazing opportunities. And last night, once I settled down,after feeling a little lost, I started to realize that being a girl, here alone, I must do what is needed to be done, to make myself blend in and feel as comfortable as possible. Sometimes we love to be different. But here in India, being a white girl alone, is already "different" enough. So I need to avoid drawing more attention to myself than is necessary. For instance, I walked around this sari-shop on Friday night, and felt so uncomfortable, because I was had a knee-length skirt on. I wanted to cover my legs, down to my ankles. I felt like I was being disrespectful by showing "so much" skin. (I haven't once worn a singlet by the way..the shoulders are ALWAYS covered) Just the simplest thing like that and comfort will be mine. Or, not making eye-contact with anybody, but still remaining confident, without showing arrogance. O yeah, and not using a spoon to eat, but learning to eat rice with my fingers, properly. The list goes on, but these little things will all become natural. Just like when getting on the bus, remembering to sit at the front; as women and men have to sit separate.
I felt so much better last night and this morning. I'm on my way now to a book exhibition! So excited I am. I'm going with Doris, the Canadian girl from the course. She's an amazing girl. It's so special that I'm getting to spend my first weeks here in India and having her company. We talk so alike and think so alike. After a few days we were able to hug each other and say how special our "meeting" is.
Today, I'm using all methods of transport, for the first time, by myself. I making my way around the city, going from here to there, and I don't care about the stares. I simply can't start caring. I read somewhere that the people only stare because they are fascinated as they don't see a white person everyday. So it's just the way it is. So far, I've been feeling like they would be looking down at me, instead of looking at me with fascination.. But hey ho.. I can't care no more. I am who I am. And that's all fine!
I shall sign-off for now. Tomorrow I'm hitting the books again, doing the studying that's required, and I can't wait!