Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why?

It all started when I read Kim by Kipling. I know he’s an imperialistic bastard but he sure can write. His description of the place captivated me immediately. I wanted this life of adventure in a colorful ever changing land. I wanted to be the street rat who knew every angle, how to curse in twelve languages and could tell you the history and social status of everyone who passes by. I conviently ignored the fact that I am the anti-Sherlock Holmes in noticing details, learn languages poorly, and posses a verbal quickness that works well in dealing with bacteria but would never suffice for spy work.

My obsession with India remained strong as I read this book at least a dozen times. After I graduated high school in Lancaster, PA (an Amish stronghold), I got the chance to travel to Nepal and India for six weeks with a team. This adventure exceeded, if possible, all my expectations for the subcontinent. I was mesmerized from the moment we stepped into the roaring crowd outside the Kathmandu airport. I got to wash an elephant in the Ganges, trek to villages that had never seen a blonde before and see Mount Everest emerge from a week of clouds on my birthday. However, the thing that cemented my desire to return here for a long pull was the people I met.

I found a culture built on kindness. People would insist on providing a meal for you, a place to stay or a tour of the city. I found a place where people take their time and a minimum of 20 minutes was allotted for small talk with everyone you meet. But the most trite description still rings true: “India is a land of contradictions”. I also found people willing to scam you out of everything you owned (note to idiots: if someone wants you to smuggle jewels, there’s no reason they would need your credit card info), who hated you because you were American or spat on you for violating unknown customs.

But that’s also the story of everywhere. There’s good and bad wherever you go. India seemed to be overflowing with so many welcoming arms that the shaking fists just served as an amusing contrast.

It’s been five years since that trip. I went to school in Boston and lived in New York for a year and a half doing stem cell research without paying a penny in rent. Now it’s time for the Great Leap.

I leave for New Dehli on November 13th after my parent’s throw a “Outsourcing Our Kids To India” party. The plural arises because my youngest sister will travel with me to watch my back for the first six months. I plan to travel for awhile and scout for a place I’d like to settle in for school. I think Mumbai is the most appealing but I’ll figure it out when I get there. Here we go.

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