Many things get unnoticed when you are sightseeing, enjoying the tasty foods, visiting temples, and going shopping. But actually staying put and blending (well, trying to) to the community you live in is another story.
So, here is some of what I noticed during my 12+ months in India. And please, don't get me wrong, this is not a complaint or a comparison with the western world. India can harden your heart or break it open, the choice is yours. First things first, life in India is not easy. You have to have a strong will and a loud voice (literally and figuratively) to be heard.
There are sounds here I have never heard before and at times it's difficult/impossible to detect the source. Drivers honk constantly and I've learned that there are different techniques. For instance, the "get out of my way" horn is long and fierce whereas the "I'm passing you on the right" is short and feeble. Personal space has no meaning, because there are so many people. Everywhere.
There are different prices for videshi (foreigners) and Indians. It helps speaking the language, especially when someone is trying to rip you off, although it often doesn't make a difference... what to do? Women are treated differently than men. Women hold a different place in society. Women cook and clean a lot. Having an alcoholic beverage is a big (and expensive) deal. If you go to a shop before the owner has done his/her puja (offering) you just have to wait until he/she is finished. You are not allowed to caress a cow with your feet, no matter how soft the fur is. If someone owes you money, do not ask for it (especially in the street!). Dogs are free to roam around. They have a special capability of avoiding cars, scooters, trucks. Some don't. A few (mainly males) get taken by humans; sometimes they end up being chained sometimes they don't. It is possible for a puppy to be taken by a tiger and manage to escape (not once, but TWICE) before being eating: miracles do happen. Animal sterilization is often frowned upon. Rainy season is just that: rain nonstop. The heat is the hottest I have ever felt: I have no words to describe the feeling. The peace you find in an Indian temple is something magical that envelopes your whole being, like stepping into a giant box of glitter. The holy river Ganga is a source of incessant blessings: Her water changes sounds from season to season.
Finding out the sex of your child while you are pregnant is illegal. Going to the hospital is a little like unwillingly be catapulted in Dante's purgatory, although blood tests' results are returned in 2 hours! Fresh salads are not easy to find. You kinda have to bribe the vegetables walla for some decent lettuce meant for western hotels... and it's not cheap. Mangoes come in very many shapes and colors: sweet melting taste. The foreigners who come to Rishikesh for yoga or else don't seem to realize that wearing shorts and a tank top is not appropriate. No matter how hot it is. Masala Chai (tea) is an amazing drink that can be savored any moment during the day (and night)... The list could go on, but I'm stopping here...
So, India... as our love story continues I thank you for being who/what you are. For testing my patience and my sense of humor. For keeping me strong. For teaching me things I would have never learned in any other way. For making me feel alive in every. single. part. of who I am as a human being. To remind me that the change I wish to see begins with me. I am grateful to be a part of you.