In Love With India: Round Square Exchange

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In Love With India: Round Square Exchange

Round Square Exchange to Vivek High School, Chandigarh

Jessica Clarke - Term 4, 2016

This isn’t your cliché love story as India and I had a very complicated relationship. I’m not going to tell you about the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple. I’m not going to tell you about the restaurants and the India Gate. I’m not going to bore you with the touristy stuff. I’m going to tell you the truth.

I wasn’t smitten at first sight, as most are by India’s warmer weather, astounding architecture and strange smells. As a matter of fact, when I stepped off the plane in Chandigarh, I wanted to turn around and get straight back on again. But I’m glad I didn’t as it probably would have ended up being one of the biggest regrets of my life. As John Green would say, I fell in love with India ‘the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once’.

Coming from a farm with almost nobody around, I found the huge population of India and constant chaos quite confronting. It took me a while to adjust, but I was soon bewitched by the packed markets, swarming streets and congested cities. Everywhere I went there was a tide of people, of which you had no choice but to move with the flow. Fabrics of different colours whipping in the breeze, laughter, shouting, pushing and honking; it never ceased.

Indian cuisine was also a relatively new experience for me, only ever having tasted the toned down western version that you can find in Australia. In the beginning I found the food so bizarre but as I ate it every day I slowly fell in love. Some Indian food was so strange that I actually liked it. Sometimes the line between sweet and savoury was that hard to find it was as though Indian cuisine had completely forgotten about it. But now, I miss those questionable flavour combinations, intense spices and I miss every meal being a new experience for my tastebuds (whether they liked it or not).

The culture in India is so different to that at home. The clothing is more modest, but as beautiful and more colourful than anything you could find in Australia, the festivals and weddings are so extravagant to a point that it could almost be considered insanity and the temples and religious architecture is without a doubt the most beautiful in the world.

Now that I’m back at home, I miss so many things that I took for granted while in India. I miss the traffic and the hustle. I find it hard to sleep at night without the incessant honking of car horns in the distance. I miss the smell of frying aloo tikki from a nearby street vendor and my sticky fingers after pigging out on Jalebi. I miss the insane colours and patterns that make up Indian wear, some of which would most likely be considered a fashion sin back in Australia. I miss the upbeat Punjabi music (except for that song ‘Do You Know?’ which made me want to do a Vincent van Gogh every time I heard it). Most of all I will miss the friends that I have made, which I never did get to thank enough for making my experience an amazing one.

But sadly, like any great love story, my time in India had to come to an end. I came to India naïve, shy, terrified and longing for home. Two months later I boarded the plane self-confident, independent and not wanting to go back.