Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Leaving India

My last days in India were everything one could ask for in terms of a farewell. Louis, Andy, Nastasia and I went to Rishikesh for another peak at the ashram where the Beatles wrote the White Album. We swam in the Ganges and relaxed at riverside hippy eateries. Then we went back to Delhi and had one last rooftop party. Andy bought a new Che Guevara banner that billowed in the wind, staring us down while we drank and danced and warmed ourselves over the fire. We danced and rapped and argued East Coast versus West Coast and I got to say goodbye to all my new New Delhi friends.

Then I went downstairs and crawled into bed one last time for who knows how long with the one person I didn't know how to say goodbye to. But we woke up, my heart already in my throat and made our way to the airport. I remained stoic all the way to and kissed him goodbye so it seemed like I didn't care. I don't know why. And then right when I walked in the door, let it all go and started crying. And who was watching me when I looked through the window? … so much for playing it cool.

Now I'm gone. In transit towards home to my parents and my dog and my favorite food and back to all the people who have stopped asking why I do the things I do.

But before I pull my spirit away from India completely, let me write one last blog about what I learned and loved about the country.

You can make a home anywhere with the right people.

 A Christmas tree is a must when spending the holidays abroad.

You can fit more people on a pedal rickshaw than you'd think.

 Walk down the wrong street and you'll probably stumble upon a parade.

Take time for mid-day ice creams and photobooth sessions with coworkers. It makes the day go faster.

Every kid wants his picture taken.

Sometimes, Dunkin' Donuts is a must.

Take time to draw flowers

Anything fits into a taxi.

You can buy anything on the street, including a haircut.

Haggling for an autorickshaw (or for anything) in Delhi is an art

The smog is ridiculous.

It's important to export cultural traditions, like Halloween.

When playing with Indian fireworks...

...expect to blow up your hand.

Some anger can be justified, but only to a point.

Sometimes you wake up and can't face India.
So you say, "Screw it," and order room service.

No matter where you come from or how you feel about America...

Everyone loves Thanksgiving.

People in Goa don't mess around with the Feast of Saint Francis Xavier...

...expect crazy lines just to enter the church.

Like Dunkin' Donuts, sometimes Baskin Robins is a must.

It's hard to photograph Louis without a cigarette.

Sometimes you have to make the most of a bad excursion with champagne and a view...

...or ordering a G&T at a fancy hotel you are not staying at.

Renting a houseboat in Kashmir is a crazy game.

Never rent a houseboat from this man...

Or buy honey from this woman...

Or rent a boat ride from this man...

Don't get to attached to the Eid sheep. They aren't around for long.

Everything is bigger and brighter in Kashmir.

It's better to eat dinner by lamplight, especially when you don't know what you're eating.

Always say hi to Mom and Dad...

...no matter where you are...

...or what condition you are in.

Sitar music rocks, especially when played by Anushka Shankar.

You never know when you'll spot a prime minister.

Always carry an emergency candle for when the power goes out, or you can't figure out how to turn on the light.

Street food is delicious and dangerous.

Swim in the Ganges, no matter how cold. Just try to do it north of the major cities.

It's worth paying the 50 rupee bribe to see something like this...

...and like this.

It's worth it to see the Taj... at any price.

But don't rent a tour from this guy, or anyone who doesn't have any teeth.

Don't pay the 20 rupees to cover your shoes when walking barefoot around the Taj Mahal is free!

Always say hello to the people you love. You don't know when you'll get another chance.

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