First Impressions of India: By Paige Andrews
I’m definitely not in Boston anymore.
On the evening of July 16th, I stepped out of Gandhi International Airport into muggy New Delhi, and my glasses became foggy instantly as sweat began to bead on my freckled forehead. My vision was impaired, but my sense of smell was certainly intact. Coming from a family of several generations of brick manufacturers, I knew immediately what Delhi felt and smelled like to me: a brick kiln, which was firing clay [and perhaps the contents of a dumpster]. As I used my trembling finger to swipe my lenses clean, I was immediately overwhelmed by the swarms of people coming, going, and simply being.
I shyly watched as my luggage (a backpack…from the 1970s) was slung onto the top of a taxi and tethered with rope like a teabag being wrung out. Without speaking a word, I crawled into the air-conditioned cab and hoped that I hadn’t made a huge mistake. Jet lagged and sweaty, my body fell limp against the glass of the window as I observed rickshaws, pedestrians, cows, and motorcycles share Delhi’s chaotic roadways.
The next morning, when I awoke, I received the most boisterous and exciting welcome that one could have. When I stepped outside, there was a large crowd of people dancing and singing. (I would find out later that these people were on the Buddha Amarnath pilgrimage.) My first glimpse of Delhi in the daylight was a total senses overload, and after standing for a minute in shock and awe, something came over me. I’m not sure if it was Jetlag, my anti-malarial medication, or a spontaneous loss of body restraint, but I joined these strangers in a celebratory dance and immediately lost all feeling of anxiety.
That moment (my first taste of India, really) would be the one that set the tone for my attitude for my semester of study in India: go with the flow, let loose, and be enveloped by this colorful and chaotic culture.