It is official – Suzana Indiana is over! On Monday 18th of September at 12:35 local time I flew out of Cochi International Airport, leaving the Indian land.
No more Indiana, but always Suzana! I won’t change the name of the blog and surely will keep writing. It is too good for my self-control and development to stop it. It will be more lifestyle now. And traveling, of course – I will never stop!
My major issues about India? I became a different person.
Usually when your character changes, it happens so slowly that just your friends or relatives are able to notice it and inform you. The thing which makes me very worried is that I see how much I changed myself! And it was just confirmed by Hriday who has seen me on my first and last day in India.
I am not such a sweet and cheerful person. Yes, I am still pure heart for my friends, but India taught me how to be hard with strangers – work under pressure, oppose to my laws being violated, do not let people treat you differently, fight for what you want and need. I do not think it is bad – I just became a stronger, more independent and mature person. The only issue which worries me is that I might have become a tough b**ch. Hopefully I soften back in Europe again, I don’t want other people to be afraid of me.
There are as many good as bad things about India and I can both praise and criticize it as country, society, culture for long hours.
Traffic – horrible. No basic rules, being selfish, risky, sometimes brainless. I did not feel safe crossing the street. Having crazy drivers, add bikes, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws, cows, pigs, chickens and dogs. You just cannot exist there as a pedestrian safely.
Good thing about it? Now I know that I will be able to drive in any conditions and any machine if I just practice a bit. This year I have drove snow mobile, dog sledge, scooter in India, left-handed car in left-sided Indian traffic… It’s all about staying calm and surviving whatever comes. Driving is like skiing or bicycle, you just never forget it and can adjust to the conditions.
Next thing – food. I cannot bear anything spicy, so I basically hate all the Indian food. It is all about masala! You cannot really taste what you really eat because they prepare it with so many spices that you can just imagine that it is chickpeas or beans… Other thing is that most of the dishes just tastes the same – strong and intense.
On the other hand, as Hinduism is the majoring religion, there are many vegetarians and huuuge variety of veg options in the restaurants, which for me as a Polish was new. Polish cuisine is all about meat, fat, onion and potatoes. In Sweden I was positively surprised that there are so many vegetarian, vegan, gluten-, lactose-, nuts-free options!
The most terrible thing is probably the lack of safety. For this three months I have never felt comfortable while I was alone! Manipal is one of the most secure places I have seen in India, I knew I have many friends there, there are many students and foreigners and that I have my knife and pepper spray in my bag, but I still felt unsafe.
White woman in India is screwed up. Nothing really bad ever happened to me or my friends… But everyone stares at you! No matter if you are wearing shorts or are fully dressed up. Some of the people smile, ask about your origin, but majority treats you like a monkey in a zoo. I know I am something new and exotic. I know that some of them never left their village and I may be the first white person they see – that is why they want to take a selfie with me (yea, smartphones already arrived to the village), but what do they actually do with those photos – I have no idea. Not to mention the crowds which gather around us when as the couple of people we go to the beach in bikini… Yes, I know I am different – I look and dress differently, maybe I am interesting, but shouldn’t we all just treat each other like humans? With respect to our own space, privacy and comfort. As simple as that.
That was a lot of critics, so now – positive thing.
Religious situation in India is something I have found the most interesting and charming. Unlike anywhere else I have been, there is such a mixture of various beliefs! Muslims, Hindu, Christians and Buddhists mixed all together, all the mosques, temples, churches built one near another, wide variety of shops with food and clothes appropriate for these groups. And there is a lot of conflicts, but not so many of religious background nowadays!
As I wrote some time ago, I found Hinduism a correct path of living. Peaceful way to happiness, enjoying life, respect to other people, nature, animals, getting and giving the most you can, sharing, smiling… It is also so broad! There are so many gods I haven’t heard about yet, so many symbols and customs, traditions… It is so exciting that I will never no EVERYTHING!
As still the biggest percentage of Indians are Hindu, it is almost impossible to find beef for example, as cow is sacred and believed to be a symbol of life and prosperity. Well… I am a vegetarian since years (with a break), but do you remember lion Alex from Madagascar movies, when he was out of zoo, hungry for meat and all of his friends looked like steaks in his eyes? I imagine that most of my friends feel like that right now when they see all those cows on the street. I also used to call them burgers while driving, when they were crashing in front of my vehicle 😀
What I will miss the most about India are people! First of all – native Indians. So peaceful and happy! So hospitable and willing to help! Nevertheless, most of the Indians I got along with were, as I used to call it, westernized, as they have been to Europe themselves, or at least have dealt with interns for some time already. It can also influence it, but I think it doesn’t change them as people, it just helps them understand how we feel about India. If it wasn’t for Hriday, for example, who has seen some part of world, is very considerate and understanding, I would get crazy and kill someone or get killed. He was my mediator with the rest of the world. ‘Yes Zuza, I totally understand your point, I know how you feel and I am very upset that I cannot change it, but this is India and…’ was part of our conversation every time!
Other group I will miss even more are the other interns. Our Masala Family grew a lot, and changed a lot in the meantime. During this three months I have seen so many people coming and leaving! And I got really attached to almost all of them, that is why I am so happy to be a traveler! Other Polish cities, Serbia, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Austria… I will be everywhere visiting my old friends!
I think the main reason why we got so close are the hard conditions – we very often had to support each other in some Indian-Western disputes, provide all the kinds of support from 10 rupees for tuk tuk to western, reliable antibiotics. We spent a lot of time together – eating, working, partying, chilling, traveling, shopping… That is why I have been living with most of these people just like with brothers and sisters! It was lovely to knock on each other’s doors and just spend evenings together.
The greatest thing about India is obvious for the people who talked to me about it and know how much passion and enthusiasm I have for… yoga! It is not a sport, it is a lifestyle. Lifestyle I just started exploring.
I have been doing yoga in Poland for a couple of months, but at that time it was just physical activity. Yes, I felt fresher and chilled going out of classes, but it didn’t really change my mindset. After three months with Pradeepa, while for last few weeks I was going for classes both morning and afternoon, I finally understood that most of yoga is in your mind – fighting the pain, pushing the borders, being able to focus and relax, or just push all the thoughts out of the brain. You have to get to know yourself, observe your body and breath, sometimes listen to the proper music or just calming voice of your guru. At first I was surprised that there is so much chatting in the class, but then I realized that it does not disturb me in focusing – it just makes me even more relaxed as I can just be myself and talk as much as I usually do :D.
Pradeepa is the most non-Indian adult person I have ever met (yes, she is Sri Lankan, but culture-wise it does not matter) – you can talk to her about ANYTHING and you will be listened and understood. She helped me realize many things, she always knows what I need. She also feels people and is able to help them with what some people would call magical powers. I did not believe it at first, but she really took back pains and headaches from me a couple of times…
I have been talking to her a lot about my problems until she told me about hers. Then I felt stupid and childish, as there is so much more to life than what I face… She didn’t let me feel that way at all. And she is one of the strongest women I have ever met.
I was quite convinced that I cannot have children – destroying my body with lack of sleep, irregular lifestyle, alcohol, contraceptives, medical history of my Mother, I would not be surprised. Pradeepa couldn’t believe me and checked it using her ‘power’. I will have one son on my own when I will be between 30 to 40 years old. That is something new for me. And you know what is the weirdest? When she told me that I literally cried out of happiness. I surprised myself with the fact that no matter how much I was pushing it in my mind and time, one day maybe I will be really happy and convinced to be a mother.
Yes, I can talk about my guru infinitely. Some people started to call her ‘Dumbledore of Manipal’ after hearing how much of authority she is to me xD But I trust her a lot and know that she knows what is good for me. That is why when we were talking about my studies, future job and plans, it didn’t take her long to convince me… ‘- Zuza, look, you will graduate next year… Why to rush to adult life? Yes, go and travel in South America, if it is your dream and goal, but maybe than you come back to India for some time? You could stay here, do yoga, explore Hinduism. You would maybe repair the picture you have about India right now…’. And I did not have to think a lot to say yes. I graduate in February, can spend March-May in South America and June-September in India (I have Varanasi, Kolkata and Chennai to see anyway!). If I keep doing yoga in Poland now, maybe I can get certified next year in India? Maybe I could join both Pradeepa and Vijaya (the guru in Udupi I have visited around a month ago and spent weekend with him)? It all just seems so right thing to do!
I don’t want to wait. I will monitor the prices of the tickets, but I guess I will buy my flights by the end of the year… Just to have something settled. At least to start building a scaffold for my plans.
For now – see you India! Change for better, stay awesome.