About my vegetarianism

I am a vegetarian and it is one of not many things I really like about India – there is so much veg choice in the restaurants! All the products in the grocery shops are marked, restaurants are even marked veg/non-veg outside and have clear sections in the menu. It was the same in Sweden, adding gluten-free, vegan and nut allergy products.

Well, you cannot be accepted as a vegetarian in Poland. All our cuisine is based on fat meat – pork, beef, chickens, unidentified mixture of all above… Soups are made on the bone broth, gelatine is added to yoghurt. As a vegetarian in Poland, I tend to suspect traps everywhere.

As I still live at home it is important to mention: no, my parents are not vegetarian, neither were any of my boyfriends (apart from Muslim = pork-free one). My both parents are fine with my diet – mom does not eat much meat anyway, dad manages to cook vegetarian and add meat to them for himself and grandma.

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(c) Bence Fejes

Initially I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian (consuming milk products and eggs) for 3 years Р13 until 16, out of strong concern about animals and not being willing to contribute to the meat/leather business treating them in a terrible way and over-using them. It is not really about killing an animal itself, it is more the conditions in which they have to live and be transported before being brutally killed. At least that is my opinion.

When I was 16 till 21, I still did not any meat but introduced to my diet fish and seafood. I do not really know why, it was just a feeling that I need some more protein and ‘good’, fish fat in my diet.

Throughout all this period I kept checking my blood results. I’ve never got into anemia, sometimes I just had too low levels of ferrum and magnesium (probably too much coffee). My mother is a doctor, she reads a lot about healthy diet, so I was not concerned about my health. Yes, I am overweight, but it is more the result of my gens and a few years of using contraceptive pills, which I am definitely done with (hormonal changes just make my mental problems worse). I promised myself that I will never fight with myself – I just did not like meat so I didn’t feel the need to eat it. I always knew that the moment will come, though. I thought that I will have those whims and fantasies when I get pregnant or something… But I was just in Italy ūüėÄ

When I was in Rome for the first time in April last year, I was in rush and ordered an artichoke sandwich, which – after looking closer – turned out to contain turkey. I was too hungry and too late to complain so I just ate it with a slight disgust. But I didn’t stop there! Being in Italy I wanted to try all the Bolognese, lasagna, ham, bacon, chicken and all the lovely traditional food, although I thought this desire will stop when I come back to Poland. Well, it didn’t. I wanted to try so many meat food which all the people were always talking about! Is McDonald’s better than KFC? Which burger restaurant is the best in Lodz? I was looking for all those answers!

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(c) Bence Fejes

I kept eating meat in Germany, in Sweden, and then I came to India. I promised myself not to eat meat there for my own good (as well as not to drink alcohol and not to have sex…) – I was too afraid of its quality, purity, parasites… And I find it pretty popular among all the generations. Maybe half of my Indian friends are vegetarian?

When it comes to eggs, milk and honey – I do not have problem with it. Eggs – I am not and never was against abortion in an early stage, so why I would I think that a bit of protein with yellow, super-healthy mass is a chicken when it isn’t yet? As my secondary school friend Olga once said – ‘cow’s antennas would explode if you don’t milk her’, and it is also bees principal business to produce honey. They are not slaves (as I am in my lab xD). I also buy leather shoes sometimes (not belts or bags), as they are just more ecological due to their better quality – if I do not have to throw shoes away every winter and buy new ones, I am better to our planet.

Fun fact I heard accidentally from my yoga teacher this morning: we started gossiping like every morning when I do my warm-up and she said some dirty sexual joke. I started to laugh and she was like ‘I know it is just morning, but I can already talk non-veg!’. And for us, Europeans, dirty jokes are ‘spicy’, not ‘non-veg’… Well, everything is masala in India.

Rehersal

I am gonna come back to the lab tomorrow at 9AM Indian time (5:30 European time). I need a rehearsal.

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(c) Bence Fejes

Good morning, sir! Can I talk to you, please?

I know it is not a first time, I know we already had similar conversations. But this time I am more serious than before. I am really sorry and I will really try to work better and more efficient. I can try to explain you this situation, why I am so different from any other intern… Do you remember that before coming here I just came to Poland for 3 weeks after my 6-months studies abroad in Sweden? That is why it is so difficult for me here. I am homesick since 8 months. I cannot be with my friends in hard moments. I cannot be there for my family. I cannot settle my private emotional life. I am all the time in the rush. And additionally… Sweden is such a liberal country! There are no stiff rules like here, I called my professors by their first name and been with them in honest friend relationship. Yes, honesty… This is something I would like to talk to you about. On Friday you told me all the bad things accumulated for last 7 weeks… It is not fair! Why didn’t you tell me that I am not meeting deadlines 4 weeks ago? Why didn’t you tell me that other professors complain about giving the bad example to their PhD students? You should have told me right away.

Anyway, it is Monday 21st of August, can we start all over again today? From both mine and yours side. Please, sir?

Sinusoid on my way up

It was supposed to be me-weekend, just for me, myself and I.

After at least two weeks of terrible homesickness, many soothing conversations, on Thursday night I finally managed to fall in love with India again. That is all thanks to the new Indian people I met, who showed me that the modern generation is far from what I used to call ‘India, for f**k’s sake’. I again believed that I am here for some purpose and I should pursue what I decided to. And I even read my texts aloud and loved it.

The next day was probably one of most intensively terrible days of my life and I still am not sure how to deal with it. I did not get crazy yet only thanks to IAESTE guys holding my hands and the friends around telling me that I am Zuzanna Lisowska and if I get myself into even the biggest shit, I will get out of it by myself and even bring a bag of gold.

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(c) Bence Fejes

I was very keen on spending this weekend in a yoga ashram near Udupi, doing yoga and meditation, exploring hinduism. I was supposed to get there on Friday evening, unfortunately I was too exhausted to move out of the safe zone of Manipal, therefore I reached Yogagurukula on Saturday’s midday, welcomed by the guru Vijaya who immediately stole my heart (on a spiritual way! He is a happy husband and a fresh father to a little boy, future yogin).

Although it was a holiday, so we did not do any yoga, I probably had the greatest afternoon of my stay in India. After delicious lunch, eaten together with other white students from Australia, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland, I took a rest in a room which could be mine (hopefully I find time to get there again for a couple of days). Later on Nina, an Australian yoga teacher in Spain, took me for a long walk through the jungle and a nearby village, where we found more temples than in any other place (there is just one in Manipal itself!). This woman is like a Swiss knife! Yoga, massage, Indian dance, chanting, surviving among Australian snakes… Nothing she cannot teach you! We talked a lot, I shared many of my stories, beliefs and anxieties with her, and she told me that I should definitely pursue with writing a blog, write a book about what is in my head, and maybe try creative writing (of which I am thinking for some time already).

After the walk I joined the girls for chanting session, borrowed some books from guru’s library, talked to another yoga teacher starting his school in Manipal and then finally had a conversation with a guru. Listening to my story he gave me so many clues on how to start with hinduism, what to read, how to explore. And he made ma calm, peaceful and sure about my decision. He also understood my problem with yoga and meditation – I cannot stop over-thinking, when I am supposed to focus there are herds of thoughts galloping through my brain. Vijaya said that it is completely natural and I should start by changing my lifestyle, as a healthy soul needs a healthy body. Good nutrition, good sleep, good people result in peaceful and good thoughts. And that’s the beginning for me.

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(c) Bence Fejes

Afterwards we had a dinner with girls and went to the nearby temple, where our guru was about to conduct a puja (hindu counterpart of a christian mess). I really enjoyed this spiritual experience, although there are still so many things I do not understand! Saying good-bye near the temple I infinitely thanked to all the people I met and promised to be back, sooner or later. If I – or any of my friends – need an escape from life, a safe spot to settle down and think, I would definitely recommend going there, to a tower-like building with a yoga room on the ground floor and students’ rooms on the upper ones. I guess it is just my lucky sense for people – I met my yoga teacher people by accident, she told me about this place by accident, and somehow it ended up to be such an enriching experience!

This Saturday was also a day of strong independent women too. Aussie was just a beginning to that.

I really admired the Swiss girl I met there. She is just one year older than me, staying in Yogagurukula already for 2 years, with some holidays at home, planning to stay there for a couple more years. She did not want to go to the university yet, she tried the kindergarten teaching and figured out that for now the best option for her will be just to pursue with yoga and see what is there later on waiting for her. And she does. And I so f**king admire this courage to do what she feels, not what is expected from her! And the strength to believe that what she feels is right.

I also met a Danish woman living with her husband in India for five years already! I cannot imagine it, but she is in love with her lifestyle. She is all what her husband is not – peacefully doing yoga, admiring the sun raising and setting, cooking good, reading… Her husband works as an engineer (in the field similar to mine) 7 days a week and his only activities are morning jog, work and sleeping. And they still get along, and in their 50ies (in around 10 years) are planning to throw it all away and go traveling. I love them for this, especially that they share my idea about life: I do not need to have the best phone, car and apartment, I just want to be able to travel for 2 weeks every 3 months and I will be a happy human being!

I am so grateful for all that happened to me! And no matter what the next couple of days will bring me – maybe I will have to run out of the country and go homeless through Asia for the next month – I know I will be fully able to decide what I need.

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(c) Bence Fejes

Humans of Manipal vol.3

I kinda like my own¬†Humans of New York series… It just helps me appreciate even more the people surrounding me, and learn how to write breath-taking descriptions (which I could never do in high school and always wrote pros’n’cons thesis on the exams).

Today the person without who I would be on my plane back long time ago (and I don’t know what I will do with myself when he leaves back for Scotland).

Jackie, Alan, Scott or however anyone happen to call him – is one of the greatest male friends and brothers I’ve met in my life, and I really hope to stay in touch with him. Not many people just read on my face that there is something going on and immediately take me for a european (price and quality-wise) coffee to talk about it. And not many men can really listen and understand emotional side of a person. He is affable and immeasurably patient.

I still recall meeting him for a first time on our group lunch in a mexican restaurant. My third sentence pronounced to him was ‘Do you wanna go to Goa with us this weekend?’, however our first travel together happened only in the end of July, when we went to New Delhi – Agra – Jaipur, and of course we had heaps of fun.

Alan – although being more Chinese than any noodles – is a native Scottish-English speaker and you seriously have to get used to his accent to be able to understand anything. It is pretty comfy, though. If you don’t wanna answer the question you can always pretend you didn’t understand it. He is the person for who I am just using TheSaurus to use more fancy vocabulary and asking him about any new word or pronunciation. Just a personal challenge for myself and my perfection.

We are both quite similar – maybe that is why we understand each other but could never survive together for too long? – and similarly damaged by so-called first world problems. Alan has too much – brilliant girlfriend, enjoyable work in the job field of his dreams, supportive parents, almost a degree from prestigious university – and he still thinks that some part of his inner SELF is missing, although he does not really know or is able to explain what that is. I – on the other hand – am overjoyed, spoiled (we are both the only children too), appealing and charismatic, and I still strive for perfection. And struggle with overambitious plans and anxiety. And constant feeling that something will go wrong and I will not achieve my goals. Welcome to our heads, admire our logic…

Another human of Manipal is actually a group of humans of Lodz. I’ve been having a couple of rough days recently and needed some support, didn’t want to worry my closest though (YES, I’m better now!).

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That’s how I felt for the last couple of days. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† (c) Bence Fejes

I’ve never heard so many positive things and thoughts of support from people who are physically that far away. And I have also never seen worried about me that much more than my mother. Or got so much support from the teacher on whose lessons I was literally sleeping every week.

Thanks to people like friends of my parents, my ex-teachers, flat mates, my not-that-close family and friends, I survived this crisis and after reading and hearing many positive words – can move on. And I really needed it, cause India is overwhelming sometimes.

What do people think about India?

I am in India for 45 days already, 38 are left until I fly back. What do people really think about India?

I talked to many people before coming here, like really. I was prepared. I heard a lot of good but also huge amount of bad thinks. Many many many different things, and I just guess that it is a definition of India – mix of everything. All you can imagine, you will find it in India.

I remember 2011 in New Delhi, there is even a Netflix documentary about it. Five or six guys renting a bus, driving through the city, kidnapping a couple, robbing them, beating the guy, massive raping the girl, destroying her internal organs with the rod, throwing the bodies near the highway. Men raping kids. Women sleeping on the street. Children borrowed from the orphanages, injured, to beg for more money. Homeless, the poor. Drugs, prostitution. Assaults, human rights violation. It all really happens here.

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(c) Bence Fejes

On the other hand – rich temples, full of gold, fat maharaja, fancy hotels, palaces, cars, women dressed like princesses. Beauty of the nature, various animals, gorgeous huge butterflies. Spiritual value of all the world’s religions, gods, cows, symbols, rituals, singing, smells and tastes. I cannot find myself in all this masala-like mixture!

I talked to my mother’s friend, a photographer who traveled half of the planet. She said that India was a lot, but nothing you can’t stand. That not much will surprise me afterwards. That I will be more resistant to many things. And she told me to be very careful.

I sent her an e-mail asking for support a couple of days before, and she told me many clever and deep things again. India is so different culturally that it is both shocking and tempting for us, Europeans. She told me to get some distance, do not take all I see directly to my heart, cause I will go crazy. I cannot save the world alone. Especially if I am not in my full strength. Together with all the inconvenience, people change here: I get richer in experiences and network, self-develop, broaden my horizons and appreciate what I have back in Europe and Poland.

My ex-headteacher, on the other hand, told me that I will enjoy more being with the wild but organized group than on luxurious holidays. Seems logical.

Few days ago the three of my friends han a transportation accident. They were in auto-rikshaw (or tuk tuk) and the car hit them. They were roofing. Tunisian girl in the middle was fine, but the little Thai girl (half of me in all the measures) got smashed on the bottom of the vehicle, while my Polish friend got very scratched and half of her body is purple, as the car hit directly on her. The ambulance journey looked like psychiatric hospital transport, the hospital’s service was worse than they would do alone with the european products. I hope they at least can get some money from the insurance.

It’s dirty, smelly and loud. People look, approach for a selfie, touch me. At first I wanted to feel like I’m a local (I am for 3 months). I am always super nice, smiling, with my heart in my hands. But you just cannot, they still treat you like an alien. So I changed into a mean bitch, white european Princess, I treat them with a lot of distance, sometimes rude. I don’t know if it is a good way to survive but the only one for now I figured out.

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(c) Bence Fejes

Yesterday I talked to many of my friends and my family. I needed this european breeze and was glad that it was a holiday both here and in Europe, cause I finally had a chance to catch up with people, support and be supported.

If I was to take this decision/chance again – I would still do it. But I would come to India for shorter time, maybe 1.5-2 months. And if someone asks about my opinion, I will tell them to triple-think it and hit their head before, to know if they know what are they going to do and if they are resistant enough. Seriously.

The best thing happening to me here are the people I meet here. And I am not alone, no matter from where we come – Poland, Thailand, Scotland, Tunisia, Oman – we all feel the same way, and the same bad sometimes.

Yes, I am fine. 38 more days.

 

Namaste Manipal

Last weekend was a lot of fun. I am so tired and happy!

IAESTE LC Manipal together with AIESEC and Manipal University organized an International Week for all of us, exchange students.

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Honestly, I partied 4 days in a row and I do not think it is the end. On Thursday one of the interns, a Turkish guy (they are always so fun!), organized a house party for us in his student accommodation. Well, I did not work on Friday. I did not even move until 5PM.

On Friday evening we had Sanscriti – opening dinner joined with a little party and competitions. We wrapped saree as fast as we could, we set the ranguli patterns (shaping the colorful powder on the floor) and danced a lot – all wearing a saree! Afterwards we went for dances to our favorite Country Inn bar.

 

Next day was pretty tiresome too! We started at 11AM with Savage Hunt – city game all over Manipal. I got so sunburnt, but had a lot of fun completing all the challenges and trying to be as fast as we could. Not to mention a group picture with the police officers…

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In the evening we had Bollywood Night Party, which was by far the best party I had in Manipal! Open bar, great music and all the people I love are the definition of a perfect party. When it finished I ended up in a bar in which I was most probably the first woman in 20 years (accompanied by my people, luckily), then in a car filled with 10 people (I was driven by the guy I just met, laying down under the front window), then in our lovely Country Inn again, as we refused to pay 100 rupees for entrance to Cocks and Mocks. The most funny part of the evening was when we ended up in a house party of some rich Indian kids, totally drunk and lost. Fortunately most of my friends were there (all of us went crazy) and I basically talked all the evening with my Scottish brother Alan.

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Sunday was most probably the most important day of the weekend. There was a huge ceremony with a lot of audience, consisting of various events and performances. After yoga session, henna tattoos, stalls of different countries (Poland was a disaster), dancing and singing talent show, we finally showed off with what we practiced for the whole week. First – Fashion Show. Each couple represented on the catwalk different state of India. I was a Punjabi princess and our show was such a success! Even my yoga teacher came to watch how well we do. Afterwards we performed our dance, looking like a jumping group of monkeys, but everyone was super excited. I loved our formation and choreography, music and the costumes, it was all just so perfect!

 

Afterwards we headed for dinner, shower, and after some beers in Green Apple, ended up in Country Inn and dancing like crazy again. Afterparty in the students accommodation literally killed me and if it hadn’t been for Philipp from Austria (my big brother, he will teach me self-defense!), I wouldn’t make it home.

My Monday at work was horrible. My supervisor wanted to introduce new level of the project but I told him that there is no way we are doing anything serious today and I just wanna come back to sleep. I prepared my methyl blue solution and spend the rest of the day wandering around.

Of course I over-slept for yoga (Pradeepa even came to see my show on Sunday!), so I am planning to go in the evening, before the International Cuisine event, and for now I just need to sleeeeeeep.

Where is my time?

I suffer from the chronic lack of time. At first I thought it happens just back in Poland – where I have university, extensive social life, some family life, every day duties, extra courses… I was studying in Sweden for one semester and I also had university + social life + traveling + house keeping… So it seemed normal too.

Here in India I am just for 12 weeks, my social group is limited to less than 100 people, I have pretty flexible working hours and a lot of freedom. Why I don’t have time again?

I guess it is just my personality, the fear of missing out (Millenials again), curiosity, energy. I am trying to live my life in 300% and do not want to skip any moment or opportunity.

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(c) Bence Fejes

That is why – apart from working – I start every day with yoga at 7AM, go to each lunch and dinner with other interns or coworkers, attend every party until the late night, and as always – volunteer.

I just love volunteering. I wish I could do it in more noble way, but I haven’t found a proper opportunity yet. Last year at my previous work I volunteered to organize a company barbecue… I kept doing that until the end of the summer, every second week on average. I am just a master when it comes to planning and organization. If I wasn’t an engineer to be, I am sure I would become an event planner.

It’s Saturday 10AM for me, I should be sleeping, as I partied yesterday second day in a row. Why am I up? Cause we just had our dancing rehearsal. Yes, I volunteer here too. This weekend – together with IAESTE and other interns – we celebrate Namaste Manipal, International week full of activities for all of us. And most of us volunteered to perform an Indian dance, as well as walk on a catwalk wearing clothes from different regions of India. It’s gonna be so much fun!

Apart from that we also had a dinner with saree wraping competition, ranguli powder painting, soon I am going out for the campus hare and hounds, in the evening we all party at Bollywood night. And yesterday I survived the whole party and dancing wearing a saree. And I honestly do not know how Indian women do it in their every day life!

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(c) Bence Fejes

Coming back to the point – I do not have time for anything. I should sleep more, read more, take a rest, catch up with my series. But I just cannot miss any second of my stay in India! Fear of missing out joined with hyper-productivity.

Productivity is a very trendy word. I am not a fan of it. Probably you can read more constructive things about it if you read THE POST of my uni friend РPaulina Paullajna Wyrwas.

I am productive, effective, organized and active. And I could write a book about it (which by the way I promised to so many people recently… Pradeepa – my yoga guru, Alan, Pablo…), but why? Each of us has their own – more or less succesful – way to manage their time. And I think that it does not matter if you hand in an assignment 3 days or 5 minutes before the deadline, as long as it is done. I do it both ways, depending on my current situation, and never suffered any problems because of it.

I am quite happy about my productivity and little-time-I-have management. I am happy with what I do and achieve, I do not fall behind with studies or work, I am a good friend, fair flatmate and not-bad daughter. I do what satisfies me and still have some room for mistakes. Yes, time is mine.