I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t been counting down a little bit for this one. I’ve now been gone from the U.S. for three months which means I’m exactly ¼ of the way into my Watson year. And while I’m very excited for the nine months that lie ahead, knowing I have a quarter of the year under my belt makes the massive amount of time and transitions that remain feel (slightly) more manageable.
I’ll share some more general reflections with you in the recent report I wrote for the Watson Fellowship office, but for now, I’ll stick with my Watsoversary format, which I’ve become rather fond of.
In the last month I have:
-Learned the basic rules of cricket.
-Slept in eleven different beds (counting train berths) in eight different Indian cities.
-Celebrated Dasara, Gandhi’s birthday and Diwali; three holidays that were new to me.
-Consumed more rice than I ever thought I was physically capable of.
-Had mehndi designs on my hands for two weeks.
-Become more assertive.
-Seen wild elephants
-Waited in line at no less than thirteen different Hindu temples.
-Seen a dead body in person for the first time in my life.
-Bought and worn my first kameez and my first churidars (and then some…)
-Taken my first ever overnight train journey (and then some…)
-Become a pro at eating with my right hand. (Okay, so “pro” might be a bit of an exaggeration because in terms of my rice in the mouth to rice on the table I’m probably still around the level of an Indian five-year old, BUT, there’s definitely been improvement. It’s the serving with my left hand business I need to work on conquering next…)
-Seen three different bodies of water at the same time (the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea). Had a glimpse of the ocean from the southernmost tip of India that stretches straight across to Antarctica.
-Been treated like a god. Many Hindus believe that guests should be treated as if they were gods their house and I have been the happy recipient of so much incredible hospitality. To give you an idea of how generous many people are here (even people I only meet once, briefly), in the past five weeks I’ve been given gifts of one skirt, a set of bangles, a gold bowl, 3 scarves, a necklace, an Indian cell phone (with cell phone plan), and endless coconuts to drink and meals to eat. I also had one woman insist on giving me presents for my mom and my sister (whom she had never met).
-Spent three straight weeks as a vegetarian and surprised myself in not missing meat at all. (Although the chicken shawarma I broke it for in Bangalore tasted really good).
-Toughened up. Called other people out. Become a better liar. Stood up for myself. Realized that doing this can feel great.
-Seen what pepper, nutmeg, cacao, ginger, pineapples, tamarind, cardamom, and guavas all look like when growing in their natural habitats.
-Become much more okay with much less personal space.
-Come to appreciate cold showers.
-Seen a Hindi movie set.
-And, as always but particularly because there have been some rather chaotic and exhausting weeks in the last month, been so grateful for my family, friends, and readers that, in a small way, I can be sharing this with you. Thank you.