Off to India and arrival at Miranda House

Off to India and arrival at Miranda House
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux
As per request from family and friends, I thought I would start up a blog to detail my month in New Delhi.  I know I’ll find it interesting to reflect during my travels and have something to look back on when I want to remember my trip.  So I hope you enjoy hearing about my experiences- I know that I couldn’t provide many details about what I’d be doing this month prior to my departure because I didn’t know what I would be doing this month.  But hopefully I’ll figure that out soon!
I didn’t expect my foreign adventure to start as early as boarding the plane, but I already feel like I’m in a whole world (haha).  The plane itself is decorated with Indian fabrics and is adorned with pictures of the Taj Mahal everywhere, the stewardedesses are in saris and the primary language for directions and writing is Hindi.  I’d take a picture but I figured that because I stick out as the only white person in sight so taking photos inside an airplane might not be the best idea… But I’ve been spoiled- flight attendants have personally escorted me to my seat and offering me omelets so its been fun.  The flight itself was seamless- I enjoyed the ethnic food served for dinner and breakfast- chickpeas with both meals, curried chicken for dinner and I’m not sure what breakfast was but it was yummy.
The girl I sat next to on the plane just turned 22 yesterday and she was flying back to visit family for a couple months, her first visit since she moved to Amityville, NY to get married two years ago.  She thought I was brave coming to India by myself but I can’t imagine what her transition was like.  Despite Bollywood movies that glorify finding the partner of your dreams, its obvious that early, arranged marriages are still quite prevalent.
Time to prepare for landing!  Hello India!
Decoration at the airport
It’s 2:30 AM Indian Standard Time… obviously adjusting to the 9.5 hour time difference still needs some work.  But I’m here and settled in my room at the Miranda House Hostel.  Two men from the college picked me up at baggage claim yesterday afternoon and the drive to the school was certainly eye opening.  The roads embody chaos- small cars and taxis and packed buses, bicycles and rickshaws, males driving motorcycles with their wives sitting side-saddle behind them along horses and oxen all chaotically careening down dusty streets, with incessant beeping.  Everyone appeared to be outside- either working on construction sites (I saw some women with some heavy pickaxes!) or walking around their housing, which seems to be crumbling slums or tents erected roadside for the majority of the people in the city.  I saw some storefronts, lots of headquarters of the police and training grounds for the Indian army but for the most part, looking at these sites, you won’t expect it to be 2011. I guess flying into the sparking new international airport was slightly misleading and maybe I haven’t been to the more modern, touristy areas of New Delhi but I didn’t expect to see exclusively slum living essentially.
The weather is pretty ridiculous too- I just found out May is their hottest month but this kind of heat and humidity doesn’t feel real and I arrived when the sun was setting.  The monthly May average hovered between 117-118 degrees Fahrenheit.  On the flight, I tried to drink a ton of water but I woke up a couple hours ago with a huge headache and incredible thirst. The six water bottles I brought aren’t going to last very long at all and I’m still hesitant about drinking the water in the dining hall…
Speaking of the dining hall, my accommodations at the Miranda House hostel are fit for a princess!  I’ve got a huge air-conditioned room all to myself- a refrigerator, microwave, and a huge bathroom.  Supposedly it’s the nicest one they have and it’s more than I need for sure.  I told this to the zoology professor who was showing me around and she joked that she’d be happy to move in too! Everyone here is incredibly hospitable and excited to have me here- constantly people are trying to feed me and ask what they can do to make me more comfortable.
I guess today is an Indian holiday, honoring the Buddha so the students don’t have exams and the teachers have a day off from their training.  I’m supposed to meet up with Dr. Jolly either this afternoon or tomorrow and the zoology teacher offered to show me around New Delhi.  Plus I’ve got to get my currency converted and figure out the internet situation so I’m sure I’ll have plenty of keep me busy.
Overall, I think this is going to be an awesome month and I just hope I’ll be able to really immerse myself in the culture while I’m here.  Obviously, most of the areas I’ve seen so far don’t look very safe to explore independently but hopefully I’ll continue to find people who don’t mind showing me around- the students said they’d be happy to show me around if they weren’t stuck in exams until mid-June.  But I’ll be gone two days before everyone finishes…

My bedroom- air conditioner is a little leaky but the plants outside my door appreciate it!
View from my balcony- my room is front and center!

“The mess” (hall) where I eat
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