This week some professors from St. Ben’s and St. John’s were here in India with all of us: the first India Study Abroad Program from the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. We are the ultimate guinea pigs. It was so great to see all of them here in India even though I’ve never met any of them on campus back at home; it just felt good to know that they were from my college.
Having them here really quizzed me on how much I know about India. I didn’t know how well I knew this city until I had to tour them around Kolkata and give explanations about why people do what they do. You know, things like why living at the corner of street is bothersome (because people honk a log at the corners to warn others that the driver is coming), or why you should pay the rickshaw driver during a red stop light instead of at the destination (it saves you more time when you get off). I didn’t notice that I knew my way around the city pretty well; I knew the layout of the city, the street names and landmarks.
With my ektu ektu Bangla, they were amazed that I could speak to auto rickshaw drivers as well as get around the city through public transportation; they were so impressed by our ability to adapt to the shonking streets, the beggars in the street and the deceiving cab drivers (just some cabs, not all).
Their presence also made me understand how much I will take away with me as well as how much I am going to leave behind. I have so much to take back with me; all the friends, family, homes, stories, photos, Bollywood DVDs and once-in-a-life-time memories. In May when I leave I will leave behind Auntie and Uncle’s shattered hearts, the hot sun that glows beautifully at sunset, the Hindu religious celebration, the annoying honking (I will miss it), the staring, the curious and clueless US girl who asks WHY DO THEY THAT? and most importantly I will miss going to Starmark/Oxford/Music World to buy Bollywood movies.
I almost feel like coming here to India was the easy part. The harder part is returning home. I’m going to miss India so much. What am I going to do with myself?