Bittersweet.

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This post is coming from a bit of sadness. This wonderful country has giving me so much and I’m so sad to be leaving it behind. I feel like I need to give back since it taught me so much. I was hoping to volunteer while I was here but just did not have enough time. I’m leaving two bags of clothes here though that will be donated to those less fortunate. I just don’t feel as if that’s enough.

Like I’ve said before, words simply cannot describe India. For anything that you call it, the exact opposite can also be true. India is ugly yet beautiful. India is mean but so kind and good-hearted. India is dirty but very clean. It is rich and poor. It is material but so spiritual. India is so stupid yet so smart.

The beauty of the Indian people here is that they are simply happy with what they have. They look at the people below them and feel blessed that they are not them. They realize they are lucky for what they have and do not want for more. Americans get so caught up in what they don’t have. They look at the people above them and are constantly trying to have more. This is the problem with us. Believe me, I too have fallen victim to that. I get it.

Here in India, you realize that you are not in control of your life. Things are constantly changing and moving forward. Many people here look to their faith to try to keep their control. I believe over 80% of Indians are of the Hindu faith. My family here is Hindu as well. I got to visit many beautiful temples while I was here. The most beautiful thing about Hinduism is that there are millions of paths to the divine. Yesterday while I was exploring I was in a temple witnessing one of their ceremonies of sorts. I don’t know what it was but I just start crying. Something inside of me got so stirred up. Seeing so many people truly believe in something was powerful, moving, and absolutely breath-taking.

India has touched something inside me. I have not completely figured it out quite yet what it is. It inspired me. To be better. To be nicer. To be more complete. Life is a constant struggle but this trip has truly changed me.

I’m not much with words in person and if you ask me how my trip went when I get back I’ll probably just make a lame joke about all the cows and goats.

But I encourage each and every one of you to find something that impassions you like this trip has done for me. I encourage to find something that makes you want to be better than the person you were yesterday. Most of all, I encourage you to be happy where you truly are.

I head back to the land of the free tomorrow with a full heart, an eager mind, and a wandering soul.

Namaste.
And so much love and good vibes to each and every single one of you.

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Bangalore, Karnataka, India

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I just got back to Chennai after a very long seven hour car ride. It’s almost exactly in line with Chennai horizontally, just a few kilometers to the west. Road trips are extra long here because of all the traffic. It was exhausting and way too much time in a car.

But totally worth it.

Bangalore was absolutely wonderful. The weather is beyond perfect. It’s about 68 every day with a light breeze and beautiful sunshine. It’s the third most populous city in India and the capital city of Karnataka. This is a different state from where I’m staying so they spoke another language called Kanada. I thought I was just getting used to Tamil.

We stayed with my India mom’s cousin who is basically her sister. They were two peas in a pod. We went to a beautiful park with some great history. Our main thing was a full day of retail therapy. It was hectic, fast paced, and exciting. I am in love with Indian street shopping. Bangalore is the main information technology hub of India but it is a very sleepy relaxed city. One of the highlights was some amazing chaat that we had. That is North Indian street food and it is crunchy, delicious, and full of flavor.

Indian food has become my new favorite thing. It is spicy, flavorful, and beyond words amazing. If you have not had Indian food in America, just don’t. It won’t even compare. Just come to India and get some dosai, paratas, and idlies for yourself from the place that makes them the best.

I have two days left to explore and then I’m headed back to America. It is very bittersweet. I love it here but of course I miss my friends and family back home.

So for those of you that are still reading and following my journey along, I will probably post once more before I leave about my time here and then you will be seeing my shining face in America before you know it!

Thank you all for your continued love and support!

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A few tidbits.

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After writing my post yesterday I thought of a few more things about India that all my little Americans should know.

First – As you may or may not know, I am 10 hours and 30 minutes ahead of you if you are reading this from Kansas. I was really curious why the extra 30 minutes was thrown in there so of course I looked up because it started bothering me. There are about 9 countries across the world that do this extra 30 minutes based on where they are. I just so happen to be in one of those nine. I thought I was pretty cool. Also, look up India on a map. It’s a big freaking country. But the whole country is in the same time zone. This is because when India took their independence from the British they wanted to unite the country as one thus making everyone in the same time zone. Apparently it took a long time for people to get adjusted to this when they changed it.

Second – In America, our months go from the 1st to the 30th or 31st, respectively. In India, their months go from the 15th to the 15th.

Third – They have power outages here. You can be watching the TV and BAM! Its dark. You can be showering (lukewarm water of course, not hot) and BAM! Freezing cold water. To take a shower you have to turn on the water heater thing and it warms the water as you shower. When I say lukewarm, I say that very generously. The one thing I am missing is a HOT shower. All American snootiness intended.

Lastly – I want to share the secret of one thing that has taken this trip a little above and beyond. If you ever travel abroad, I highly suggest buying books with stories that are about the country you are going to. I’ve read about two different books that are about traveler’s journey through India and it makes it even better being here. You know what they are talking about. You just get it. Who knows? Maybe this only applies to India because it’s a one of a kind country.

As you have probably noticed my blog is titled Wanderlust. I have this incredible urge/force/inkling inside me that always wants to travel. I get bored really quickly and I am always wanting to explore. Whether it be a road trip or something on the other side of the world, get out there. There is so much of this crazy, beautiful world to see.

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You are beautiful.

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I had the absolute experience of a lifetime. One that I will tell my grandchildren about. What happened you ask? I saw a Tamil movie. Tamil Nadu is the creator of Kollywood films. Chennai is the absolute leader for it. This move I saw was called Singam 2. Luckily I read the description before I saw the movie so I kind of knew what was going on because it was all in Tamil. The movie had about every human emotion rolled into one. It was an action film but the audience laughed quite a bit. There was also a very dramatic love story/triangle, the main character did some very manly crying, and there was even singing and dancing. Remember the song I mentioned hearing that sounded like Gangman Style? Yup. It was in this movie. “Let’s singam dance!” I highly suggest that you watch the YouTube link to fully experience a bit of what I went through. (http://youtu.be/Roeeq_yiBO4) I fully plan on learning the dance here and making it a huge hit in the US. Who’s in?

There is one story I have to tell everyone that will probably give you a good laugh. Especially if you imagine in your head what I’m about to tell you. One day at work I was going up the escalator during lunch. I tell you that it is during lunch to let you know that just about everyone was out there seeing this happen. In India, modesty is a big thing. So I wear long maxi skirts everyday to work to respect their culture. Yup. You guessed it. I got my skirt caught in the escalator. It was horrible. I was holding up traffic because I couldn’t get my skirt out because I was laughing at myself so hard and couldn’t stop. After it happened I just realized that my life is even a joke in India. Totally fine. I gave everyone there a very good laugh.

Taking a slight ADD step back…one thing that I really enjoyed about the movie was the actors and actresses. That sounds a little weird. Let me explain. The women in the movies actually have a healthy body. They aren’t stick skinny like in America. It’s refreshing. Here, curvy and normal is beautiful. One thing about their image that puts me off though is their obsession with skin lightness. Just about everyday I have a woman telling me that I’m so beautiful and that my skin is so gorgeous, etc., etc. In India, woman think you are more beautiful if you are lighter skinned and will use skin whitening lotions to get the look they desire. Just like in America how girls put on self tanner to be darker. We all what we can’t have, right?

I know how hard it is when you’re feeling down on yourself and your looks. Trust me, I’m just as self conscious and probably have a lower self-esteem than most girls. I just try to always remember that I am beautiful.

So today and every day after, I want you to know that every single one of you is beautiful. Inside and all of your outsides. And please never ever forget that.

Tell someone they are beautiful today. Let them know that you care. After all, you could be the person that turns their whole day around.

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When it rains, it pours.

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Hello all! It is currently 8:50AM and I had some time before I head to work so I figured I would write another post. One really awesome thing about my internship is that I don’t have to be there till 10:00AM. This is especially wonderful for those that know me and know that I am not the least bit a morning person. I usually get off around 6:00PM so its a typical eight hour work day.

Indian radio has to possibly be the greatest thing ever. It is just so everywhere and trying to follow it is useless. I randomly hear a few American words every now and then that catches my attention. The day before I heard “sugar free” and “hot and spicy girlfriend.” Last night on my way home from work I heard this catchy dance number song and I’m pretty sure it was the Indian equivalent to that Gangham style song in America. Tonight I will try to find it and learn the dance so I can perform it on my return, no worries. It really confuses me when I hear English on the radio and then I listen harder and try to understand what else they are saying as if I can actually speak Tamil. Oh yes, in case you were not aware the state/territory I am in is called Tamil Nadu so they speak Tamil here instead of Hindu.

In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, I posted the other day to tell about the ice cream truck. He drives by every night in our neighborhood. He also drives by during the day on the weekends. After he drives by I sing his ice cream truck song all day. What is his song you ask? Jingle Bells. I don’t think the Indian people here know that and I just find it so wonderful since my love for Christmas is absolutely ridiculous. It’s my little piece of America I hear everyday.

People in India don’t like to wear shoes. Not just the poor people that can’t afford them but the rich people don’t like to either. To me, this is absolutely wonderful. I love being barefoot and being in a country where they share my love of that as well.

Every morning a guy rides by on a bike around 8:00AM. And every morning he is shouting out something that sounds like “Buh da da duuh!” I have absolutely no idea what it means but I must figure out before I leave.

Since I have been here it has rained twice. Once I was already in bed reading and it was beautiful just listening to it and falling asleep. The second time was last night when I got off work. For some reason it doesn’t just rain here, it is more of a freaking down pour. Now I love rainstorms probably more than the average person and its even more of a sight to see in India. Women are riding home from work on their scooters and their saris are absolutely drenched. Instead of crowding the streets, people are hidden under awnings and inside small shops. A rainstorm is probably the only time you will not hit a pedestrian. Here they don’t really have street drains, sewers or anything like that so the rain just collects in the streets. The streets become small ponds and rivers that you just have to drive though. I saw some very low riding cars that looked like they might have been swept away. Since India is so dirty and trash lines the roads, these street ponds become street trash ponds. It is not a very pretty sight. But it’s India.

Sometimes I’m at work or in the shower and it just hits me. I am in India. I am so blessed to be here and India has a really special place in my heart now because it is just a wonderful place. It is so full of life. You can’t really understand India unless you are in it. My plane leaves in exactly two weeks and I’m already getting sad thinking about leaving this beautiful country.

So appreciate what you have in America because someone here in India undoubtedly has it much worse. I mean at least you don’t have to wade in trash water when it rains, right?

Intern life.

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Today I had my first day at my internship. I think it is going to go just swimmingly and I can’t wait to get this project done that they have me working on. While at work today I thought about a few more things you silly little Americans need to know about India.

First – They do not exactly believe in toilet paper here. They have those things with the hose where you wash your…..self, if ya know what I mean. It confused me…a lot. So now my new goal is to not drink as much water during the day so I don’t have to pee at work. They also don’t clean the restrooms very well so be sure to bring hand sanitizer if you ever head to India.

Second – I cannot believe I forgot the head bobble! Americans tend to nod in a yes motion with their head when acknowledging a conversation, making mental notes, thinking, and saying yes. Indians bobble from side to side like a…well, like a bobble head. It is actually quite adorable and I find myself doing it alone because it is so intriguing to me. They do it to say yes, thank you, and acknowledge what you are saying like we nod. It is very interesting.

Third – There is the time. Then there is India time. They do not believe in being late. It is just a you get there when you get there kind of thing. It is kind of refreshing to live that way instead of always constantly worrying about being somewhere on time.

Lastly – I’m not sure if it’s just the family that I’m staying with or if all Indians are this way; but they are quite possibly the nicest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and staying with. They are always asking if there’s anything they can get you such as coffee, tea, or soda. They ask if you are hungry or need a snack. They ask if the temperature is okay and randomly bring you a fan for your office even though its perfectly fine. They are just so giving and it makes my heart so happy to be spending time with such caring people.

Let’s all be a little more Indian today. Don’t fret about time. Ask someone if they need anything. But still please stock your restrooms with toilet paper.

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This is Ambika. She is the daughter of the family that I’m staying with. She is very sweet and I’m blessed to have someone around my age to hang around with at home.

My night is your morning.

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There are a few things my American friends need to know about India. It is exactly but not exactly how you see in the movies.

First – jet lag is the worst thing in the world. Right now it is about 9PM and I’m going to bed soon because I got 4 hours of sleep and I’ve been awake since 3AM. I’m tired all the time because my times are literally opposite. If you ever come to this side of the country, be sure to bring sleeping aids.

Second – I saw my first cow in the road! It is true that they are sacred and they just roam free.

Third – no US traffic compares to the driving here in Chennai. I have experienced NYC traffic and LA traffic and it is not even close to here. It is crazy, hectic, and you feel like you are going to crash about every second. They drive on the opposite side of the road and they don’t exactly believe in designated lanes. I also have yet to see one speed limit sign. The honking of cars, buses, little yellow 3-wheeled taxis, and motorcycles is a language in its own. They have honks when coming to an intersection, one for turning, one for passing, and sometimes they just honk if they want someone to get the heck outta the way.

Fourth – yes, they do eat with their hands. I did it today off of a banana leaf at a function! This function was basically like a baby shower. The parents to be sit on these immaculate gold chairs and the elders, family, and friends all come up and bless them. They only do this for the first born child. They also feed everyone that comes and give you a goody bag of sorts when you leave. It was a beautiful sight to see and I’m so glad I got to experience it.

Fifth – it is just as hot and humid as Kansas. I thought our humidity was bad but you have no idea till you experience this and then pack in all the people that populate this city. There is also no air conditioning like we are blessed to have. Luckily, the house I live in has a small unit in my room which works very well.

Sixth – they have a lot of wild dogs here. This did not surprise me because I experienced this in Nicaragua and the Dominican. They look harmless but I’m sure a polar bear does too before it eats your face.

Lastly – Yes, there is poverty everywhere. You see people just sitting on the streets, sleeping in unfinished open buildings, and living in shacks probably half the size of most of your bedrooms. You see ruin and trash next to beautiful temples. It breaks my heart and I’m trying to think of anything I can do to help. I’m thinking about seeing if I can leave some of my clothes here when I leave to donate somewhere.

Tomorrow I start my first day at my internship so wish me luck! I hope you all are doing your good deeds!

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