You Know You’re in India When…

You Know You’re In India When…

You Google “picking mosquito bites.”

You count your mosquito bites, wondering when to start worrying about how many there are.

You crave paratha instead of chocolate.

You would rather eat (fried) food off the street that has probably been swarming with flies than food from the hostel, which has probably been covered in ants.

All of your washing revolves around a bucket: taking a shower, hand washing your clothes, rinsing your blackened feet.

You get excited about a “texting plan” that gives you 4,000 texts a month for 26 rupees.

You are not surprised when a goat emerges from behind a trash truck as you walk to class.

You are surprised that there is a trash truck that oddly resembles the green sanitation service ones that you see in the States.

You can’t go to another city without an Indian guy asking you to take a picture with him.

Exposing your ankles or shoulders feels indecent.

Wearing your hair down feels indecent.

You carry contact solution, toilet paper, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, bug spray, and a scarf with you, no matter where you are going.

You bobble your head instead of saying “thank you.”

a list, a letter, pretty pleeze!

M-B, this list is for you, because you taught me how to see in new ways. Here’s a bit about this country through the lens of pop culture.

India Is Not Like…

The Darjeeling Limited. Yes, the colors are just as brilliant, but the trains are a thousand times less clean and less comfortable.

Eat Pray Love. Yes, there is spirituality. But there is also corruption and craziness.

Sponsor a Child commercials. Well, perhaps at first glance it is, when you see the poverty and the malnourished children. But there’s not a weepy Sarah Mclachlan soundtrack playing in the background.

Outsourced. Although I haven’t actually seen an episode in its entirety, the IT sector is only a miniscule part of India (see Bangalore).

Slumdog Millionaire. Yes, there is a lot of trash. And they do burn it here. But there’s more to the country than that.

A Bollywood movie. Yes, the clothing is vibrantly colored, but people aren’t always singing and dancing and having love affairs.

India by the Numbers.

Number of…

Mosquito/spider bites on my right foot/ankle: 14
Mosquito/spider bites on my left foot/ankle: 16
Times I spray myself with mosquito repellent each day: 3
Gallon buckets of water required for my daily bucket shower: 1.5
Chappati it takes to fill me up: 2
Pictures I’ve taken since I’ve been here: 231
Pictures Leah has taken since we’ve been here: over 1200
Blogs started by people in the program: 9 (out of 16)
Times a day my mom checks this blog: several (3? 4?)

Kilometers from Pondicherry University into town (“Pondy”): between 5 and 14, depending on who you ask
Rupees for a bus ride into town: 4
Rupees to the dollar: 45
Candy bars you can buy for 100 rupees: 10
Jars of peanut butter floating around the hostel: 16
Times it takes Alex to put an adapter in the wall: at least 3
Computer Centre IT guys that attempt to fix Alex’s wifi: 3
People that it takes to actually fix Alex’s wifi: 1 (girl)

Days we’ve been here: 20
Vowels in Tamil: 12
Consonants in Tamil: 18
9-year-old boys at our first surf lesson: 6

Chaos of the Past.

Our group of 16 spent 1.5 weeks traveling around South India, which was 100% swell. What is less swell is writing about it after the fact. With the guidance of our professor, Dr. Sunny Luke, we sailed the backwaters of Kerala, had a cultural exchange with students at Marian College in Kottayam, ate a lot of wonderful food in some homestays, toured a spice plantation, trekked around some highlands, and much more.

I’m not going to write a lot about those adventures, but if you’re curious, check out the blogs of three other students on my program: James & Linnea (blogging together) and Lindsay. They’ve got some stellar photos up and are less lazy about writing down the past as I am.

Stayed tuned for more lists (like the Official Bucket List for India) and letters (ask me to write you one, and I’ll post it since snail mail is a bit impossible here).


Our humble group of 16 American & (one) Canadian college students had been trekking around South India—mostly the state of Kerala and a few days in Tamil Nadu, where we’ll be spending the rest of our time—for the past two weeks. While gallivanting, I made lists, and the gang assisted. Here’s a preview of what’s to come:

Things You Can’t Find In India

Misleading Gestures

Smells/Tastes/Sounds of India (three separate explorations)

Westernized Items that are Popular Here

Cultural Taboos

Classes I’m Taking

Sentences You Can Only Hear In India

To Do Before We Leave India