I arrived in India Saturday morning at 3:30am. It really could have been any time on any day. I left Croatia on a Friday morning, flew to Paris where I spent a few days before flying to London. In London I spend half an afternoon and half a night waiting for my last minute flight to San Francisco. In San Francisco I conferred with homeland security, applied for and received my visa, bought a new bag, sent my old bag home, drank more Starbucks in three days than I have in my whole life and then flew back to London. After 12 hours in London I got back on the plane to Doha and then on to Delhi. At one point I remember touching down and for a few moments I had no idea where I had just arrived. But, the strangest thing of all is, as I sat in one of the many airports I realized I was enjoying myself. The only negative part of all the travel was my heavy carry on. If not for that, I could have just kept going.
Of course, I didn't keep going. After one final ride into the mountains on a “plane-let” (small two propeller plane), I arrived in Palampur, India. India is just as I imagined it. I know people talk about having 'culture shock', but nothing has really surprised me yet. Traffic is insane. There are cows in the streets. Lots of stray dogs. Lots of poverty. Lots of trash. Delhi was not a place I'd want to live - it's chaotic and felt like about 150 degrees. But, the mountains are a bit slower pace and so beautiful. The markets are still busy and not 'clean' by U.S. standards, but I'm loving them.
Palampur is known for its tea production; but, our compound is actually surrounded by rice fields. I think we are at around 5,000 ft in elevation. The Himalayas jute up behind us and are truly breathtaking. They make the Rockies and Cascades look like foothills. A few people have been hiking in the mornings and have been finding stunning views just a few minutes up from our compound. I have yet to be able to drag myself out of bed at 6:00 to join.
And, the food is SOOOO good. Even in the intense heat (did I mention it was hot here?) I've been eating a ton. "This is the best
I am required to wear a traditional Salwaar Kameez: long tunic, MC Hammer pants and scarf. I have only bought one so far - in Delhi - and the whole outfit was $30. I'm having the rest made here in Palampur, because it's much cheaper (yep) and I could pick out my own fabric. They feel fantastic in the heat and lack of A/C. Just standing I can feel the streams of sweat pouring down my back. And, sitting? Yeah, that's the lovely feeling of having just wet yourself.