Top 10 Things I Miss About India

It’s been one week since I left India. While travelling in India was difficult, my last few weeks were great, with pleasant stays in Darjeeling and Udaipur, and the wonderful Jaipur Literature Festival. As my time ran out I started to lament my departure. I even started scheming about coming back next year. And so, while most of my draft blog posts have to wait until I’m finished my Spanish course, I thought I would share the “just look, no buy” version of my India experience:

Fresh lime soda, sweet. Lime juice (often fresh squeezed), a glass bottle of soda water—opened at your table by your server—and a small pot of simple syrup is usually cheaper than a bottle of Sprite or 7-Up, and affords far more pleasure.

Rickshaw drivers. They won’t take no for an answer when I just want to walk, and you do need to haggle, but on the whole they are friendly, reliable, good-natured, honest, and offer an exciting ride.

Tea in Darjeeling. As a matter of course, tea in Darjeeling is served loose in a pot, with a strainer, a bowl of sugar, and a cozy around the pot. And it’s lovely. All this for 20 rupees.

Fruit salads in Udaipur. Not sure why, but fruit salad is THE thing to have in Udaipur, and it is so incredibly good and fresh—banana, oranges, mango, apple, pomegranate, coconut. Some of the best fruit I’ve ever had.

Asian Cable TV. To my surprise, most hotels in India have a good selection of western TV, even budget hotels like the YMCA in Delhi have StarWorld, AXN, Sony Pix, HBO. I’ve gotten quite used to having a movie to watch, or How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, Friends, and Homeland.

Butter naan. This requires no explanation. I think it’s pretty obvious why butter naan will be missed. And garlic naaan. And butter garlic naan. And cheese and garlic naan.

Cows and monkeys. You know you’ve been in India for a long time when seeing a cow in the road is your new normal. And you’ve definitely been in Asia too long when the sight of a monkey is more of a nuisance than a joy. The last time I saw a monkey, I literally said to myself, “oh crap, monkeys,” with thoughts of securing my bag, my camera, and my person. But, now I miss the monkeys. And the cows.

Sunsets in Goa. I started missing these the first time I saw one; some days they aren’t much to look at—with all the clouds and haze, the sun just disappears—but other days there is a ball of fire, or a pink sky, or both, and it can take your breath away.

The Jaipur Literature Festival. JLF (because everything in India goes by its initials) was a real treat. It was five days of fascinating people and discussion and it was all for free. It was almost too much—I still need to process all my notes and think about all the things I’ve learned—and make my list of “must reads.”

The attention. I’ve been drawing attention all over Asia—I think the people of China have more photos of me than my family does. But nothing compares to the attention I got in India. I spent eight weeks building up my amour and exercising all my deflection skills, and now that the attention is gone, it feels a little strange. No one cares who I am, where I’m from, if I’m single, if I want to step into their shop and see what they have, if I need a driver to show me around, or if I need a room. In Dubai, there was a mix of attention and disinterest. But in Spain, I feel like I’m more a cause for irritation than an object of interest, and it’s taking a little time to recalibrate…

Farewell, India. And until we meet again, take care of yourself.