Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Indiahh (exhale)

     I hope from the rickshaw story that you could understand the craziness of Chennai.  So obviously I was very pleased to book it out of there and head over to the state of Kerala.  Kristina, Aleeza, Nick, and I took an overnight train to Alleppey, a small town where we planned a home stay in the backwaters.  The train was an experience! Think “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” (that one’s for my mom, Baker, and anyone who loved 42nd Street as much as I did) but take out the singing, substitute unfamiliar Tamil tones, and add in a few cockroaches and dirty sheets.  It was a dream.  But hey-at least we had our own beds.  In the morning we were in beautiful Kerala, just as hot as the rest of India but here there were shady trees and an air of relaxation.
     We took a rickshaw and a shaky canoe across the river to get to our home stay where Matthew showed us his house and his brother and sister’s houses right next door where they let people stay.  We were welcomed in, shown our room, and fed our first meal.
     I think Indian food is second to Japanese food now.  The food in India was incredible and very good for you.  Lots of veggies (most people in India are vegetarians) and lots of spices-plus you have the fun of eating with your hands.  That first lunch I ate with a fork since my fingers were still dirty from traveling but the next couple of meals I got right in there, mixed everything together on my plate (that’s big for me) and scooped it all between my fingers.  P.S. eating with your fingers is a lot more difficult than you would ever imagine it to be—at least when you’re eating rice and curry dishes. Basically, the food might have been one of my favorite parts about the home stay.  Everything was fresh and delicious-the best food I ate in India-and we even got a cooking lesson from Matthew’s mother.
     After lunch we were on our own.  We came out to the porch by our room and relaxed.  We soon realized we would be relaxing a lot—and that was when I realized India was giving me just what I needed.  I had been stressed out and homesick entering India.  I wanted to escape and I needed to breathe again.  Here, in the backwaters of Southern India I could breathe.  Easily.  Later that evening we went for a walk through the rice patties and down the river, and watching the sunset reflect on the water I was relieved.  It was one of those ‘everything is going to be alright’ moments.  And it was alright.  We watched the sun go down, we walked the paths that the locals walk, and we canoed down the river singing until it got dark.  Indians knows how to live.
     I was sad to leave India after the stay.  We spent two days just living, laughing, and meeting new people.  We met fellow travelers-two girls from Germany, Joanna and Sara, and two guys from Chicago, Mark and John.  They helped me sink back into the traveling spirit.  Here they were taking off from school and work, traveling and volunteering around India and learning just to be.  I was no longer stressed; I was loved-by people, by India, by the world.  I was present in India.  That was what I needed.

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