Sunday, December 27, 2015

It’s 2 am and I leave for Hyderabad, India in three hours, so naturally I am awake. This must be what people feel like before they get married, but better because I am committing to something fun. The night before a trip I always start out excited, then panic, realizing everything that should have been taken care of and everything I could bring with me (for example, this summer I realized I should print out my boarding pass for Guatemala). I keep thinking to myself, I have to bring everything with me to exist for SIX MONTHS. However, India is the most densely populated country in the world. People obviously exist there just fine. All I really need to exist is food, love, and God, right? Inspired by stories of national park backpacking dirtbags, I’m only bringing one bag to India.  Maybe India has something to say about what we need to exist.

Instead of using Heidi’s neighbor’s high school friends’ pack as usual,  I headed to REI and finally bought a pack. The green vest guy comes over to the bewildered college student looking at the assortment of packs that just looks like a pile of expensive nylon and buckles. SO MANY buckles. Why the hell would someone ever need a backpack with this many buckles and pockets. Then I started thinking about all the snacks I could put in said pockets…. The man pointed out a pack that would be nice if I was “living out of my pack for 6 months.” I think I gave the wrong impression when I said “hi I'm going to India for 6 months and only bringing one pack ”… I'm not that badass. I’m studying there, not wandering through the mountains as a yogi dirtbag. But hey, just in case I guess it would be good to be able to live out of a pack. He tells me I should probably get a size small in the pack I was looking at. GUYS. THEY MAKE BACKPACKS IN SIZES. So this buckley nylon monster I was buying would look a slightly less like an evil twin on my back. Seriously I could have crawled inside some of these bags. And never escaped because of all the buckles. And tunneled through the pockets like a wandering hamster, living out of my pack., The employee probably felt really bad for how this girl is leaving in 4 days and just bought her pack and gave me free two day shipping (Shoutout  to John, you da bomb). After ordering said pack, I of course went home and researched packs online, because I am the worst planner ever.

For example, I headed to Costco to pick up my anti malarial…. On Christmas Eve. Malarone is very expensive. So expensive the pharmacy lady lectures you for 1o minutes about how you suck at planning (I prefer free spirited, thank you). In fact, so expensive that when you’re full of Christmas cheer and excitement for your trip, you decide you don’t need them. High risk, high reward!!!

Packing made it real for me. I am going to India! Until I started packing, I was moping around thinking about how much I’m going to miss home, friends, family, Ron Swanson (my cat), grilled cheese, my cozy room, the English language. Of course I was excited, but also low key been in denial about actually leaving. The thought of living with a host family terrifies me (which is why I’m doing it). The sheer amount of people terrifies me. But its happening! I am actually going to india. I am going to live with a hindu family, eat curry, go to temples, a mosque, the Taj Mahal, meditate, learn hindi practice yoga, ride elephants, listen to Bollywood music, drink chai tea, see the river Ganges!

As much as I have tried to read up on Indian culture, I have a feeling nothing will really prepare me. Everyone I tell I am going to India ominously replies “you’ll come back a different person”. How do I reply to that “Uh thanks, yeah I know I kinda suck now” or “Yep I plan on reaching enlightenment with some yogis in the mountains”. Whoever I find,  I hope she is cool and still likes animals a little too much, still knows how to place catheters and make really good brownies and gets an adrenaline rush out of behaviors like not buying malaria pills. I could do without the type A- control freak –bossy-socially awkward- inability to understand sarcasm- aspects of myself however.. Here’s to India! Namaste. 

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