After my program in India was completed I was given the opportunity to travel to Singapore for a week. Although this isn’t home, it gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect when I do get home. Here are some things that surprised me about life outside of India.
Space: I am continually surprised by how much space there is. I don’t want to give the wrong impression because India wasn’t as crowded as I expected. You know in movies when it shows a scene from New York and it is shows is a massive clump of people moving along the sidewalks and crossing the streets. That is what I expected India to be like all the time. It is not that way. At all. Still, space is something that I had to get used to. When in the Singapore airport before I went through immigration I had to go down an escalator which lead me to a big empty room. I thought to myself, “wow there is nobody here.” Even while waiting in line I kept looking backwards into the room and thinking “there is so much room and nobody is using it.”
Food: I forgot what it is like to have meat with every meal. I am weirdly becoming overwhelmed by it. In India, meat was a rare treat that I had to buy for myself on the off chance that I went to a restaurant that served it. Even then, sometimes I did not order it. When I sit down to meals and see huge dishes of meat I have this feeling of “here we go again”. Meat is not nearly as appetizing to me anymore. I can do small portions and that is about it.
Gender: When walking around Delhi you will see quite a few security checks (malls, metro, etc.) In these checks men and women are always separated. Men use the metal detector in the open while women go behind a curtain. When I was departing the Singapore airport I obviously had to go through security in the airport. As I waited in line I was mindlessly watching the people in front of me. I was genuinely shocked when I saw a man go through the same metal detector as a woman. I thought he has gone through the wrong one and would have to come back to go to the men’s line. I was surprised to remember that not everything in the world is segregated.
I am also having my first experience with people coming up to me and saying “How was India?” I don’t know how to respond to that question. How do I sum up the past 3 ½ months? It was beautiful, ugly, challenging, rewarding, overwhelming, comfortable. Sometimes I wanted to lie in bed and cry while other times I could not stop smiling. I wish I could be given more direct questions like, How was the food, what did you wear, what did you learn, how was it adjusting to a new education system etc. It is so tough to explain my experience when there is really nothing to compare it to. This is my plea that my friends and family be patient with me and I will be patient with them.
In the mean time, here are some pictures from Singapore: