|A young boy wearing festive makeup is carried by his father during a festival.|
Nothing about India is what I expected it to be. The smells, the food, the people . . . There are two things that have really stuck out to me so far. First, there is just this sense of determination, among – well – everything! From the beggars on the street to the street vendors that follow us relentlessly to get us to buy something from them, to employees at the hotel or servers at restaurants. They are all determined to keep us pleased or to make their living. Even the numerous stray dogs and cats are determined to live, continuously foraging through garbage to find some semblance of food. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place where everyone is so persistent and focused on what they’re doing. The level of devotion is higher than I’ve noticed anywhere else. The second biggest thing that stuck out to me is that nothing is what it seems. For instance, whether our group was walking alongside the road or being driven through the city by bus, everyone commented on the filth they saw: the trash covering the sides of the roads, the down-trodden places people lived, homeless people sleeping on the streets, or the dirty animals roaming the streets. They all get lumped into one group of the unclean and unwanted. And yet, as we were driving up Chumundi Hill, as the trees cleared away everyone rushed to the window to get a picture of the view. The cityscape was seen as a thing of beauty. All of the “unpleasantries” were wiped away when looking from afar. Because it’s not until we were there, walking those streets, smelling the animals, the burning trash, that we knew what it was really like. From the outside, it’s easy to miss the less glorified parts of India. But being able to experience all of the different aspects of India is what makes this such a unique and unforgettable experience.