Manuela, my friend from Colombia describes some of her best moments of her stay in India. Those who don’t remember who Manuela is, well she’s a girl from Colombia who decided that she wanted to live in India. You can read about her arrival here and about her adventures in Chandigarh.
Last Tuesday, I celebrated 8 months of living in India. 35 weeks of adventure, traveling, cultural shock, color, noise, chaos, mountains, temples, food and friends. 244 days of invaluable lessons of life and personal growth that I’m never gonna forget and are defining what the rest of my life is going to look like. That day was also my father’s birthday, the big number 50! And on Friday, my College Graduation, which I didn’t attend either. So, as happy as I am living my Indian Dream, I’m also sad for not being there… And a little homesick!
To cheer me up and reminding myself why I’m here and not there, I decided to write a ‘tribute post’ to these challenging and absolutely amazing 8 months.
Here is my top 8 of unforgettable moments in India
1. First on the list is my first Indian Wedding Function, with all the fancy outfits, sparkling decoration, buffet food, open bar, Punjabi dancing and beautiful traditions. This is a highly recommended experience for every traveler in India and deserves a whole separate piece of writing!
2. The day I acted in a play at work. With ‘Bollywood Dancing’. IN HINDI! It was one of the most stressful days of my life; bathed in the sweat of anxiety, with that nervous tingling in my hands and rehearsing my 4 lines and dance steps for 2 days. There were loud laughs, misspelling mistakes and my face was never that red, but it was totally worth it and I got to watch Iron Man for free! … The core of the story are the priceless moments I spent sharing and getting to know my co-workers at Twillion, whom I now miss so much!!
3. Horseback riding in Kufri. I love horses, mountains and snow. Shimla was absolutely breathtaking, the international crew more than great and the sunset simply perfect! It was like going to another country for a couple of hours while still being in Magic India. Contradictory and hard to explain! As most of my experiences during this trip.
4. HOOOOOLI!!! It was the best cultural experience/Holiday/PARTY of this year so far! Me and my friends went to Jaipur and spent the day throwing colors and dancing with local and ex-pats groups while sightseeing in the Pink City. Holi is becoming a worldwide celebration, but there’s nothing like living it in the traditional way, surrounded by the ancient stones of forts and palaces with their unique architecture mixing Rajput, Indian, Mughal and European styles. Colors, friends, music and bhang make this a MUST DO Indian experience.
5. The day I was slapped by a stranger in a bus. Yes, it happened to me on a local bus going from Delhi to Chandigarh in a hot Sunday afternoon. It was definitely NOT a pleasant experience but is certainly unforgettable! There is a LOT to say about the controversial topic of how safe is India for women, and the world is in general! But I’m not gonna dig deeply on it right now. Let’s just say that I’ve felt ‘harassed’ and disrespected in various occasions on this trip, but I still love and recommend this country to all my female friends. Yes, you have to be extra cautious, but the number of incredibly good people you’ll bump into is way larger than the number of ‘bad ones’. I’ll tell the story in an upcoming blog post and you’ll help me find out the fails in my plan, advice our traveler readers and think about reasonable ways to help solve the problem.
6. The day I had the Dalai Lama so close to me that I could spot the wrinkles in his little, kind eyes. Yes, I’m a fan! It may sound like a cliché moment of excitement but the unexpected nature of the encounter makes it a story to tell; I was visiting McLeod Ganj with my boyfriend on June, and when we went got to the Tsuglagkhang Complex, we realized he was giving a public teaching that day! The place was packed and we were not registered but somehow managed to convince a guard to let us see the place for a little while. With no camera, cellphone or iPod to register the moment, you’re forced to believe in my word and what happened next: we were about to leave when another guard stopped us right at the exit point, because his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was about to enter the place. I mean, we were THERE! The first on the list, and without even knowing about it. It was a really cool experience, perfectly concluded with a visit to the Tibet Museum about the Chinese occupation and their exodus to India. A lot to think about!
7. Paragliding in Manali with my American and Korean female friends who were afraid to come to India and now want to come back. One of the best things in life is making friends all over the world. The best thing after that one is meeting them in another point of the globe and feeling like you just saw them the day before! I’ve enjoyed each and every place I’ve visited in India, but Manali has a special place in my heart; the vibe of the visitors hanging out in the cafes, the food, the temples, the Full Moon parties and the waterfalls made the place a little backpacking paradise. The best of the best: flying over trees and hills of all tones of green.
8. The first time I got sick. During almost 8 months I bragged about having a ‘princess face and a homeless stomach’ (L-O-L!) Meaning I could enjoy all the flavors and dishes of India without a problem. But the day finally came and after a lovely Sunday of wandering around the streets of Chandni Chowk and overindulging in Street Food Delicacies, the famous infamous Delhi Belly hit me hard. VERY HARD! And during three days I laid on bed, unable to digest any food, missing my mom’s special chicken soup for sick days and her hugs more than anything. But I also used those 72 hours to go through all my pictures, videos and blogs, and think about how much fun I’ve had, how many new friends I met and how much I’ve grown as a person and as a professional.
My final conclusion was simple and wise; being abroad, in a country far away from home both geographically and culturally, is the biggest adventure of your life, and also the best life school! Of course there will be tears, and fears and hard moments, but the new memories, people in your life and spiritual strength, will definitely PAY OFF!
I’m sure many of you have lived/are living the same experience. How is it going for you?? And for those thinking about starting their own adventure there’s one last word: take a leap of faith and jump in! I can guarantee you won’t regret it!