Monday, November 2, 2009

Acclimating is a LONG Process

Acclimating to India is a LONG process. Maybe by the time my trip nears it's end I'll feel like I have somewhat gotten used to being here...if I'm lucky.

Everyone keeps asking if I'm having a good time. How on earth do I respond to that? Best to say I am not having a BAD time.
But so many factors come into play...

*Still not 100% recovered from jet lag, feeling better every day but still tired and sore. In addition, the oppressive heat (96-100F daily) and pollution (inc. noise pollution) are affecting my sinuses, sense of balance, appetite, sleep cycle and more.

*I am not sure I will EVER get used to being stared at so boldly with such a lack of friendliness.
On one hand, I am just trying to ignore it, just not really looking at people and doing my own thing.
On the other hand it is virtually impossible to ignore. You can't even walk in the park or to a high end tourist shop without causing a disruption.

*Language barrier...although many of my host's friends speak very good English, it is still spoken quite rapidly and with a very strong accent. Sometimes (I'm embarrassed to admit) I can't even tell when they are speaking English, especially when they mix Hindi and English phrases!
I have learned several words/phrases in Hindi, but don't have enough connective words to move from 'yes', 'no', 'thank you" and (my greatest achievement) "I would like some______", to actually expressing my own thoughts.

Culture barrier...there is no reference point here.
I can't stress enough how difficult this part is for ME, as I am super sensitive, self-conscious and anxiety ridden even in my own US surroundings at the best of times.
Here, now, even if I understand what's being said as far as the WORDS, the meaning beneath them can be vastly different, so I hesitate to engage in conversation.
More than anything else, this barrier makes me feel like bawling like a baby.
I feel like I cannot make myself understood (besides, most of time, with my host) and also cannot understand what's going on.

Other factors are, I am somewhat reliant on my host when he's off work for deciding a daily schedule. We've been napping in the worst heat every afternoon after lunch, sometimes til almost dusk.
I am trying to keep up with my thoughts and process my experiences here and in my written journal.
I am trying to work on editing and uploading my pics.
Still, my time is NOT fully my own. It would be rude not to dine with my host or chat with his friends and so on.
I suppose starting tomorrow I'll have a better perspective how I'll pass my time when it IS my own, as he'll be going back to work and I'll have most of the daylight hours on my own.
I am planning a few more walks especially in his general neighborhood, and also Marine Drive as well as Nariman Pt. and Ballard Estate (more "touristy" areas insomuch as Mumbai has touristy areas).

Time now to run some shopping...get a cell phone, some salwar kameez (clothing), maybe even buy some BEADS!

Forthcoming: descriptions of a local hospital, the thali lunch we had yesterday, and some typical sights and sounds of the area


  1. I'm enjoying reading your blog. You are so real and honest. I showed my daughter the pictures you've been putting on flickr and she was amazed that India really looks like it did in the movie "Slumdog Millionare"! Not sure why she didn't understand that but a good cultural lesson learned.
    I understand that the language barrier must be so hard, but you've only just arrived and by the time you leave I'm sure you will have learned so much! Good luck!

  2. you are amazing... and so much stronger and able than I think you give yourself credit for... you are there.. you took the steps that took you there... I would suggest.. taking a deep breath and relaxing.. you have only been there a short time and have already learned so much and seen so much... the language and the customs and culture.. you will absorb..and then before you know it parts of it will be a part of you. It is wonderful to see the pictures and read your blog... you are wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing

  3. Hello Tammy,

    I just saw you at Twitter! Thought I'd check in here and see how you are doing!

    I wish I was going on that walk with you, man...I just cannot tell you how wonderful this is. To see you telling your experiences first hand of being in a strange land. This is truly exciting and awesome!

    You are in my thoughts and prayers, be calm, enjoy...just relax and enjoy!! Savor this adventure all you can!


  4. thanks everyone for the support...I am really struggling but somehow, at some point, I am going to get over this feeling of total isolation and fear...
    Your comments and prayers mean more than YOU know. Please keep them coming!

  5. What did you expect? A painted NYC with brown people? I really hate it when people travel to places and expect everything to be like their own surroundings! Why did you travel then duh...should have stayed back and saw a documentary on India, no smell and you can always reduce the volume!

  6. And I really pity people like you who badmouth my country with just a few days of visiting here and create an impression that India sucks!

    How many days were you here? How many places in India did you see? Indians might not give out fake smiles to people, they might stare and lack the so called "bubble" concept of the westerners, but they are the warmest people ever in the world and I am sure everyone agrees to this.

    You have entered this country with some prejudices and continue to look at everything with tinted glasses, so you getting the same back.

    Did you know that if anything happens to you, there will be a hundred Indians out there to help you? Do you know that you can travel around Mumbai at 1.00AM and still be safe?

    In fact you should have Africa before coming here and we would seen where your alligator tears would have come from!

    If you are such a panicky person, then travel is definitely not the right thing for you, you should have taken a tour package! People think that you can buy spirituality in India and just landing here will make you holier-than-thou! Spirituality can be gained even in Wisconsin, you ain't need to travel to India to get that! Man, what fakes!

  7. "John" I think you are misinterpreting the whole point of this blog. If you took offense, it is YOUR issue. I am reporting realities, not spreading prejudices.
    If I had expected it to be like home, why would I have come?
    You have some serious issues and your comments are offensive.
    If reality bothers you, you need not read my posts.
    My aim is to tell the truth about what I see, hear, smell, taste and feel so that others who might want to come will have a much better idea what it is really like and not necessarily experience the same level of culture shock as I have.

    India is falsely represented in media in other countries. I am exposing exactly what I am experiencing...good, bad, beautiful, ugly...everything.
    Future rudeness on your part will not be tolerated and your comments will be removed.

  8. Excuse me Ms. You have only been writing how crowded the city is and how rude the people are. Can you move ahead from your panicky situation and look at India exactly what thousands others accurately saw before you?

    So you mean to say the Media is idiot, they don't know how to report about India and all that is written about India is false?

    First, explore India and then make a judgement, not just going from Malabar Hill to Churchgate and back and then thinking that Mumbai is India.