As I sat down to write this posting, it was difficult for me to counteract my instinct to negatively assess my time here in Udaipur. It has not been easy and frankly, has left me feeling a bit like a piece of well-tenderized meat. But this is not all bad. It could even be construed as good! And this blog posting will be devoted to emphatically and devotedly insisting that I am a better piece of meat now than the one I was a month ago.
I have made friends. When I drove to the Delhi airport, alone for the first time in 10 days, I realized how quiet it was and I realized what going to Udaipur by myself really meant for the first time. No one else was there that I knew. I would have to start from scratch, and frankly, that sounded exhausting. But as I bonded over the gigantic rat that lived behind the washing machine with my new German-giant friend Olaf, drank cherished and hard-to-find Diet Cokes with Sara and Maya, and ate the 10 pieces of peanut butter toast Devashish made me for Sunday breakfast, I realized I had started. That these were things friends did together!
These relationships have made the especially tenderizing moments of this month a little less abrupt. Semi-running away from a tricky homestay, the man at the FRRO essentially trying to kick you out of the city, and attempting to figure out where you fit in an organization that is busy up to its ears have been made easier by the cushion of relationships.
This was especially helpful when these same friends caught me typing my symptoms of ‘morning fevers, chills, body and head ache, constricted breathing, and sweats’ into Google and WebMD simultaneously. They stuck with me through a trifecta of doctors, blood tests, x-rays, and a lot of paperwork. They called in favors for me and helped me get to the hospital when I felt like an oven, brought me fruit and fed me Maggi noodles, and made me sleep at their houses so that I wouldn’t have to be sick by myself. They wouldn’t let me eat curd because it is a cold food and shouldn’t be eaten when you have a cough and they berated the front desk at the emergency room for overcharging me.
And now as I begin to feel better physically and my new landlords conduct semi-official adoption ceremonies which involve cake and lots of picture-taking, I am thankful for these things. I can begin to sweep up the lizard poop in my new apartment, chase roosting pigeons out of my cupboards, and try to make drinkable chai. I can begin to forge my own way at work, discovering and learning professional independence.
I now know what road I live on, I can ride a group auto, and buy bananas. I have been loved and cared for by some incredible individuals when my body felt like it was rejecting me. I have had some dark days here, when I felt incredibly sorry for myself, negative. Wondering what the hell I am doing here as I walk to the Vodafone store for the 9th time or feel particularly lost at the office. And I know that I will still feel like that here – maybe a lot. I will feel lonely and lost. But as I sit at my desk right now and hear the timeless strains of Celine Dion’s number one hit “My Heart Will Go On” (no, I’m not making this up, it is literally playing outside my window), I realize that there is an alternative and that it is my choice to put these things behind me. Not every day will be easy, but I think India and I are learning to like each other, especially as it reveals itself to me through the kindness of people.