From Nagpur, India: Blog number one

To prepare myself for my trip to India, I acclimated myself to the heat, got my medicine and my shots, read three or four books about India, talked with dozens of people about India, watched a couple movies about India, watched YouTube videos of Nagpur, ate Indian food, went to a conference with people who had been to India, listened to Bollywood music, and heck, I even started this blog about India a month and a half before I’d be there.

None of that, however, compares to actually living in India.

Never in my life have I spent time in a culture so different than that in the United States.

In America, you’ll hear honks when one driver wants to signal to another that they’ve made a mistake. In India, a honk means I’m coming through!

In America, you’ll find only cars and trucks on the roads, with bicycles and pedestrians along side it. In India, the road is shared by cars, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, cows, dogs, goats, and pedestrians alike.

In America, indoor smells generally only come from an individual’s perfume or deodorant. In India, there is a distinct smell everywhere you go indoors and out – the exhaust from the motorcycles in the street, the incense burning in houses, or the food cooking in the family’s kitchen.

In short, there is a lot to adapt to.

My first “India” moment came immediately after our plane landed in Mumbai Wednesday night. As I approached the plane’s exit, I was expecting a walkway, just as there was in every other large airport I had arrived at in my life. Instead, I was directed down the steps and onto a bus.

Imagine the most crowded city bus you’ve ever been on in the US. Now increase the number of people by about 50 percent. That’s about how crowded our bus was. Yet no one complained. The short ride to the terminal was an ordinary one.

Welcome to India, Chris.

Several shenanigans later, my plane arrived in Nagpur. Whereas outside an American airport the size of Nagpur’s you might find a few taxis and a couple dozen people milling around, in Nagpur there were maybe 100 people crammed alongside each other behind a railing, vying for passengers’ attention as they walked to the street.

I didn’t need to worry about that, however, as the District YEO, and three members of my host family waved at me, the only young American in the vicinity with blonde hair and a pin-speckled Rotary jacket.

My host family is excellent. I live with a host dad, mom, brother, cousin, grandmother and grandfather. The family dynamic is at the crux of Indian life. Everyone has been extremely helpful and hospitable, despite my trivial foibles thus far.

I’ve had to get used to the Indian style of meals – eating with the right hand and serving with the left. The learning curve is short, however, and the food has been excellent. Each meal has roti, rice, water, and a variety of other foods – some spicy, others not. The roti is held with the right hand and used to scoop up the other food on the plate. The rice is picked up with four fingers and pushed into the mouth with the thumb. There is no silverware, except a spoon to spread jam on the bread in the morning.

All that said, Indian life has its similarities to Western culture as well. I have air-conditioning and house fans, use a Western-style bathroom, and watching TV is a popular form of entertainment. I have opportunities to rest each day. My bed is comfortable. I am safe. I am healthy. I am happy. I have adapted.

My internet is slow, so on most days this will be the only website I check. I will post as often as I can without spending too much time online. If you have questions, please ask them right here. You know what you want to know better than I do.

Until next time.


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11 Responses to “From Nagpur, India: Blog number one”

  1. allthingsbiological Says:

    I’m envying the dining, Chris. Be certain to learn how to cook the foods you particularly like during your stay with each host family.

    Two questions:

    1. How many host families will you have? I’m assuming three…

    2. Are you going to go through an intensive language week or two through Rotary during your first few weeks? I know they do that in some of the European countries.

  2. pyoder Says:

    >Did you take your malaria pill?

  3. Fred Held Says:

    Are you taller than anyone you see? Are there kids playing soccer in the streets? Have you got a phone yet that works?

  4. John Says:

    Chris! You are alive and sound to be doing well :). I would not be able to live with others in such close proximity, as when the number of people+me in a room takes up over 40% of the room-space I tend towards human-phobia.

    Watching tv??? What about… video games ? 🙂

  5. Wilda Kennedy Says:

    Chris, I am so glad to hear about your trip to India. I tried sending you several messages before you left, but don’t think you received them. I almost envy you your trip there for the next year. It is so exciting to learn new adventures, especially when one is young. I hope your mother won’t miss you too much and will enjoy your experiences also.
    Love and best wishes from Aunt Wilda

  6. Ethan Stone Says:

    Chris, I’m glad to hear that your adaptation’s going well! It’s great to see that you’re having a good time and keeping an open mind. Don’t let the heat get to you!


  7. G Says:

    Happy Guru Purnima.

  8. Aunt Julie Says:

    Hi Chris,
    Glad to hear you made it safely to India and are getting acclimated. It couldn’t be any warmer than it has been here lately! Are your clothes cool enough? Need any linen items? Take your time getting used to everything; it will probably be an adjustment. (The best thing we do is adjust, your Grandpa used to say). May the Force be with you. Love, Aunt Julie

    • cyoder Says:

      My clothes ARE cool enough! Even though I normally wear jeans, it’s not too bad. As hot as it is now (95 when there are no clouds), it’s as hot as it ever will be until March.

  9. bill volk Says:

    Did my yearly brown bag at Uni this morning and the evening presentations are this week. Lisa indicated you had a blog which I found. Glad to hear your first weeks have been positive. It always won’t be easy but the experience will be worth it. BV

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