After returning from our four different workshops, we had one week left in Jaipur as one big group. The excitement about coming back together as a group was quickly replaced by the startling realization of how little time we have left. On Monday we all did presentations to the rest of the group about our workshops. Though most of us were probably underprepared and possibility lacking an adequate amount of sleep, it was fun to hear about the experiences of our classmates.
On Tuesday we had our final Hindi presentations. I spent most of Monday night working on a cheesy slideshow-karaoke video to the tune of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).” Unsurprisingly, it was moderately difficult to translate an English song in Hindi and still keep in time. Other students had similarly goofy presentations, such as reading a picture book and teaching the class how to make origami frogs. After our group presentation and Hindi project were finally completed, much of the stress I had felt earlier in the week went away. On top of that, my roommate and I finally found a place to stay in Bangalore, just four days before arriving in the city.
During the rest of the week we continued finishing up our classes and aggressively trying not to dwell upon how much time was running out. On Friday evening, after having one-on-one meetings with the staff that as usual were off-schedule by at least an hour, we had our final going away party. We danced, snacked, and said our goodbyes before spreading out across the country. I walked home that evening feeling content and excited. Later that evening I had my last dinner with my host family, complete with the comforting noises of the Hindi-dubbed History Channel. Before I went to bed, my host sister and I revived our tradition of playing solitaire as a two-person team. This felt like a send-off without so many words.
In the morning I took an Hola to my friend’s house and we arrived at the airport together. Because we were never given any printed out tickets, (or any instructions for how to navigate the airport for that matter), it took us many wrong tries to finally get ourselves sorted and pass through security. Luckily, we made it just in time for the plane to begin boarding, and we were on our way.
Much like arriving in Dharamsala, arriving in Bangalore was like a breath of fresh air. While it was significantly more humid than in Jaipur, it was lovely to be in such a tropical environment. We also quickly realized how big of a city Bangalore was based on the extensive amount of time it took to get from the airport to our apartment. When we finally arrived, we were very relieved and also starving. We were shown to our room, which was decidedly not what was advertised in the pictures, but was adequate for our needs.
The manager then drove us to a restaurant to get lunch, and left us to our own devices to find our way back. While the drive there seemed relatively simple, we struggled to retrace our steps. In the end, we gave up and went inside a gym, charming our way into using their computer to search our apartment on Google Maps. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in our (thankfully) air-conditioned room and reveling in the fact that we were in the big city on our own. (Most important about our apartment is that it has fantastic Wi-Fi).
For dinner we ventured out into the city again, on a mission to get some fresh seafood. We succeeded in doing this, and I ordered from a menu filled with fish I had never heard of before. On Sunday morning, we took advantage of the complimentary breakfast we are able to order every day. I ordered dosa, a South Indian savory crepe that can be served at any time of the day. We spent the rest of the afternoon finishing our research proposals and preparing for the upcoming week.
On Sunday evening we ended up at an outdoor “cafeteria” of sorts, decorated with twinkly lights and creative seating areas. You were able to buy tickets at the counter and then use them at any of the surrounding food venders. On top of this, there was also a band playing live music and people of all ages singing along to popular Indian songs. It was a great welcome into the city and made us excited for what’s to come.
So far, I have enjoyed Bangalore very much. The stares, while not non-existent, are much less frequent and much less aggressive than they were in Jaipur. I felt safe enough to go out on my own and explore, and no one seemed to care I was there. This was a refreshing feeling, and I am hoping the rest of my time in Bangalore is as encouraging.
Until next time,
A newly minted resident of South India