Hello!!! I wish I could be more upbeat, but if I’m being honest, the trip has had some highs and lows. Although I’m very, very grateful to be on this trip, I sometimes do wish I was in New Zealand. I’m definitely starting to feel homesick, but I’m also having an amazing time. I thought I might share some highs and lows because I really dig the numbering format.
- The Places we have visited.
Honestly, the highlight of this trip has been the privilege of being able to gain insight into the numerous companies, temples and other organisations and sites that India has to offer. From companies such as Infosys to Flipkart to the Isha Foundation Ashram and Auroville, these places have given me wonderful insight into different ways people enjoy their lives and the aspirations they want. Even though some of these values, ideas, and cultures are not particularly for me, the ability to contrast and critically think about why some may choose a different path has led me to re-evaluate mine.
For example, at the Isha Foundation, I actually quite enjoyed the vegetarian meals and sitting down to eat the meals and only using my hands. Although it took a while to finally be able to crack how to eat from a plate (the trick is to not order stuff with too much liquid and move the rice with your hands into a ball), I felt closer and more appreciative of my food. The extra effort of putting it into my mouth might have been annoying at first, but by the end, I could feel that I was taking more time to examine my food and really think about what I was eating. I hope that I can bring this thoughtfulness of what I’m eating when I’m eating with utensils and to other aspects of my life.
- The constant good weather
Someone special once told me that in Auckland, you have to bring both a rain jacket and sunglasses because you’ll probably experience both rain and sunshine on the same day. In India, the weather is much, much more consistent. For 17 straight days and counting, the weather has been consistently sunny and warm. Luckily, we’re travelling in winter, so it feels warm, and weirdly, it feels like we’re experiencing and aren’t missing out on New Zealand Summer (luckily, we have managed to miss the 30-degree highs!). This also means tropical fruits like pineapple, watermelon and papaya are still on the table, and we usually get to munch on those for breakfast. So if you’re travelling to India during the winter, I’d probably leave the sweaters at home and bring some light clothing instead! (Edit – DO NOT leave them at home – I am currently in New Delhi and wished a brought a sweater).
- (Most) things are cheaper
Although the cost-of-living in Auckland is a key issue, in India, it definitely does not feel that way. For example, a packet of biscuits can cost as little as 30 cents NZD, a full meal at KFC $8 NZD and a nice flow skirt is $4 NZD. Fruit and vegetables are pretty cheap too, and I’d definitely recommend stocking up on toothpaste (Sensodyne toothpaste is only 198 rupees or approx $4 NZD here compared to $11 NZD in NZ)!
However, if you’re looking to stock up on foreign brands such as Nike or Adidas, unfortunately, you’re a bit out of luck as the prices are comparable to NZ. Some brands do seem to be much cheaper here, though, such as Birkenstocks and Crocs. I recommend checking out the brand’s website with the India setting beforehand and not assuming that everything is cheaper here!
As I’ve kind of alluded to, I really miss home. I really miss my friends, my family, and just things that I kind of take for granted. Even though India has been a blast, I’m not going to lie; hanging out with 21 people consistently and travelling on the bus can be pretty tiring. Although everyone is really, really lovely, there are times when I wish I could kind of just be by myself and chill. I definitely find that the more I talk to people and share things while also getting to learn about the people I’m travelling with, the more they feel like friends than simply other members of the group. I’m getting better at practising mindfulness and socialising more, and I hope to feel less homesick soon!
- The Smells
I think I have a pretty sensitive nose, so this will probably not be an issue for most of you. India is absolutely lovely, and most of the time, India smells pretty great. Unfortunately, one of the cities I visited (Mysore) is known for their sandalwood. And let me tell you… I have now learned what sandalwood smells like, and I do not like it. To me, there are, like, weird sweet but sour undertones that do not sit well with my nose. Otherwise, I have smelt some new scents, and now I love the smell of jasmine (some women fix it into their hair, and it smells wonderful!), chai (mhmmmm) and soap (I’ve smelt various ones from papaya to really florally ones).
Look, this is kind of to be expected. Although I’ve loved our numerous visits and walkabouts, I’ll be honest, they are pretty tiring. Sometimes all I want to do is sit in a room and just watch Netflix and chill. But I tell myself this (especially if we have to get up for Yoga at 7am):
You have six weeks in India, and you need to make the most of it. You’re probably never going to have opportunities to explore and dive into the culture like this again. Make the most of the opportunity and have no/limited regrets.Lily Li
So when I repeat these words in my mind, I’m a little more grateful, a little less annoyed, and a little more bright. Also, I have found retail therapy (especially at the mall) or a nice chilled Starbucks drink (also, I note that the prices are pretty similar to NZ, unfortunately) really helps.
So that’s it from me. Thank you again for reading my blog post. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and see you next time.