As we spent our first few nights back in Jaipur at the familiar guest house, it became hard to imagine that this was on our final week on the program. Jaipur was overwhelmingly hot, and most of my classmates were stilling finishing their research papers up until the last minute. On Tuesday, we traveled to a hotel outside of Jaipur to give our final presentations. I was meant to present in the morning, but didn’t feel capable of standing up for twenty minutes so I opted to go in the afternoon instead. I was impressed by my own ability to pull it together after feeling like death just that morning, and was even told that what I said made some sort of sense.
By the second day of presentations at least half of our group was ill in some way or another, and there was an understandable lack of energy coming from the audience. In addition, many people were functioning on little to no sleep from staying up late working on their papers. However, despite the fact that most of us would have rather been in bed, the presentations went very well overall and it was interesting to see what everyone had been studying over the past month.
On the bright side, the hotel we were staying in was bahut fancy. The beds felt like sleeping on clouds and the bathrooms were big enough to house an entire NFL team. After feeling overwhelmingly relieved to be done with all of our work, we did our best to utilize the facilities. There was a pool of course, which was used both during and after hours. At night we hooked a computer up to the TV to watch movies and fit as many people on the comfy beds as we could.
On Thursday evening we had our final banquet on the grounds of the hotel. With the help of our staff, we got dressed up in our saris one last time and descended down the stairs to the newly decorated lawn. Everyone’s host families had been invited, and the staff had provided us with a DJ and a dance floor. There was even a bar that served something other than Kingfisher. We were finally able to let loose, and the bar and dance floor were utilized by staff and students alike.
At some point in the evening, after much prodding from my classmates, I took over the DJ station. (The hired DJs were only playing heavily remixed club tracks on a loop). I gave my audience what they wanted to hear and played some fan favorites like Beyoncé, Missy Elliot, and Prince. In one of the most affirming moments of my life, the hired DJs took over the music again and all of my classmates immediately evacuated the dance floor. Once I was given control again, they all came running back to join the party.
By this point most people had changed into more comfortable clothing, as saris can be difficult (and tiring) to dance in. I however took my new job very seriously, and was still sitting behind the DJ table in my sari making sure everyone was having a good time. By the time it hit midnight, it was time for the party to end. We got to play three more “last songs,” and then we had to disperse. We tried to stay up and revel in the celebration as long as possible, but soon sleep, (and our cushiony beds), came calling.
In the morning we sleepily headed back to the program center to close out the very last day of the program. We spent some time talking about re-adjustment and what we were grateful for about the people on the program. We also watched a photo slideshow put together by one of of our staff members, (who happens to be a five-year-old boy in a forty-year-old man’s body), and it brought on much nostalgia and laughter. My former roommate in Bangalore was the first one to leave on Friday, and it was difficult to say goodbye.
That evening we were feeling restless so we decided to order an Uber and treat ourselves to some fancy desserts at the Jaipur Marriot. After fulfilling our expensive tastes for the evening, we rode back to the guest house and fell into our (decidedly less comfortable) beds. On Saturday we spent our last day tying up all our loose ends and finishing any shopping we had to do. After spending a few hours in the Old City, I was reminded how tiring it is to shop in Jaipur with the constant bombardments from shopkeepers. (On the plus side, I did get compared to Angelina Jolie).
That evening we came back together for our last night as a group. After having another veg meal at the guest house, we said goodbye to another friend. Later in the evening we decided to watch LEMONADE one last time, creating our best version of a movie theater with a laptop screen and pushed-together beds. I then said my final goodbyes to everyone before I left in the middle of the night. It’s hard to imagine that I won’t be seeing everyone so often anymore.
Because I didn’t feel like sleeping (and I’m a masochist), I decided not to go to bed before I had to leave at 4:00 AM. One of my classmates and I took a rickshaw to the airport at this ungodly hour to catch a 35-minute flight to Delhi. There were said our goodbyes as he headed back to the states and I headed to the beach. It was unsettling and wonderful to finally be alone, and as I sat at the gate waiting for my flight I couldn’t fully comprehend what had happened.
Now I am sitting on the beach in Goa, relaxing and doing my best to process whatever it is that has happened over the past three-and-a-half months. I’m not sure that I ever will. I hope you have enjoyed coming along for the ride with me as much as I have enjoyed telling you about it.
For the last time,
A student of India who will always have more to learn