When I think about India, I think about lots and lots of people, crazy drivers, heat, smog, incredibly spicy food, and Indiana Jones. Now, I really wanted to have an Indiana Jones experience–jungles, wild animals, trees…but Pune is not like that—ok, it is no where near that.
Flying–well, I don’t think I will ever feel unsafe on an American plane again. Strange noises coming from the propellers (by strange, I mean loud grinding noises like someone-left-a-screwdriver-and-it-is-being-eaten-up-by-the-propeller-loud), turbulence, the plane dipping as you’re actually supposed to be going up, and feeling the plane slow down and then speed up constantly throughout the flight–no one seemed the least bit fazed.
Driving–well, there are no lanes and everyone honks to make sure you know they are there. Lanes that were designed for 3 cars wide end up fitting 5 cars, 3 rickshaws and 10 motorcycles with whole families piled wherever there is an empty space. And did I mention the honking?
Living–well, you have the poorest of the poor living among towering skyscrapers and luxury hotels. You have half-built apartments and garbage among beautiful trees filled with orange and yellow flowers.
The people–I have never felt so welcomed into a country. The people here are absolutely lovely! Everyone seems to go out of their way to see if they can help you.
The clothing–Beautiful! I love the bright colors and loud prints worn by both men and women. The conversations I’ve had with my children regarding what the red dots on the forehead mean and why some women cover just their heads and others cover their whole faces have been fascinating! Google, again, has been our best friend here, as we have been able to learn about the different religions that are represented around us.
The currency–I’m still learning. The Indian currency is called a Rupee. One dollar is worth about 65 Rupees—so for me, doing the math in my head is difficult–especially when I’m trying to figure out tips! I was trying to be generous in my tipping for lunch and afterward, realized my “generosity” resulted in the equivalence of a $2.50 tip. No wonder the guy looked disappointed as he left. Next time I’ll know that I need to tip more than 150 Rupees.
The distance–India is far away. It takes about 7 hours to fly from London to India…which is the same amount of time it will take us to fly from London to Boston in June. It is about a 3.5 hour time difference from central European time, so the jet-lag is real.
The economy-India is making a name for itself in the IT world. From programmers to consultants, India has been very good at creating a name for itself in the IT industry!