It has been almost two and a half years since I’ve returned from India, the country I’ve spent the most amount of time in outside of the US. I think about it every single day. I brought back a lot literally from India (including tons of dangly earrings, gorgeous scarves, elephant charms that hang outside my bedroom, a plastic rickshaw toy on my bookshelf, and a broken foot). I also brought a lot back philosophically, if you’ll allow me to steer a little bit that way for this post:
As you will understand from reading this post further, I am a sensitive person. And while this affects many aspects of my life, I don’t know if it had ever affected my tastebuds until I ate at Divya’s Kitchen on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in mid-December. With the first bite of each dish I sampled, I felt like I was going to cry. I can’t tell you if it’s because of how the spices brought me back to Bangalore (where I spent four magnificent weeks in 2016), or because the experience was so beyond what I was expecting, or because the food was exactly what my body needed at that exact time, but the emotion was there.
This time last year I was spending my last few days in India, a country that means so much to me. I spent the first four weeks of my trip in Bangalore and fell in love immediately with the food, the people, and the chaos. My last two weeks in India, in Goa, were very different and much more challenging for a few reasons, but my time in Bangalore remains one of my favorite experiences of my gap year (and a half). Bangalore is also where I’ve spent the most time aside from NJ and NYC in a number of years.
I don’t always relax when I’m traveling. I want to see, do, and eat everything – just in case I never make it to Barcelona, Bratislava, or Bangkok again. After a few weeks in the chaotic, loud, traffic-filled, beep-filled, wonderful city of Bangalore, I was excited that there was some relaxation time built into our #escape2goa. While there, I tried my best to embrace the culture of susegad – a term my guidebook described as “a uniquely Goan term that translates as ‘laid-backness’ and is evident in all aspects of daily life and in the Goan people themselves.”
Here are 9 ways to relax (or, to experience susegad) in Goa, India:
Just a day after our successful morning at Nandi Hills, Lauren (another Leave UR Mark volunteer) and I ventured off on another day trip – this time to Mysore. We knew there were several buses a day from Bangalore so without any planning, we took an auto rickshaw to the bus station to buy tickets. Communication was tough at the ticket window so we weren’t sure if we had the correct tickets or bus until a man standing outside the bus started to yell “Mysore, Mysore, Mysore” in a sing-song voice for the next 15 minutes. The ride took 3 hours and we arrived just in time for lunch.
When I woke up at 3 am on my final morning during #escape2goa in Goa, India to drive to a field a few naps away, I did it to take pictures of the other bloggers. Taking a hot air balloon ride didn’t seem like my thing. It’s an activity that feels kind of “luxury” to me, and because of that, not something I’d normally spend money on. That’s true, but the main reason, I’ll admit, is that I was just too scared to fall.
Oh, 2016. What a year it’s been. Like many of my friends (including Katie and Erin), I had an incredible year personally, and while we can’t just ignore everything that’s going on in the world and in our country, that’s not what this post is about. With all the memes showing “me at the start of 2016” and “me at the end of 2016,” my favorite, and my goal, is this one (though the video version communicates the message better):
If you’d asked me last year what my favorite country to visit was, I’d have said Portugal for sure. This year, I’ve spent so much time traveling that it’s a harder question to answer, but when I arrived in Goa, India, I was excited to see how much it reminded me of Portugal. I had no idea before I flew in that Goa was a Portuguese colony until as recently as 1961, but it was easy to see similarities once I learned this.
Oh, November. Oh, November 2016. How things have changed. A week in Bangalore, two weeks in Goa, and one week back home in South Jersey. I still feel like I’m adjusting to being home, even though it’s been over a week already. It was not a normal week since it had Thanksgiving, unpacking, and jetlag, so I’m allowing myself this adjustment. This means I’ve been spending a lot of time snuggled up in bed or on the couch or on the floor with the dog in my lap. But I’ve also been doing a TON of work, so look forward to more regular posts instead of “when I get to them” posts on this site.
It’s no surprise to anyone who’s read this blog before that I LOVE street food. If you’ve been reading long enough, you may even remember when I went for a whole weekend in NYC eating exclusively from food trucks, thanks to a challenge from one of my cousins. When I found out that there was an entire street dedicated to street food in Bangalore and that it was even conveniently named Food Street (or Thindi Beedi), I knew I had to spend a night there.
Travel is incredible for the soul and the mind, but can be extremely difficult on the body. New timezones, new cuisines, and new biting insects to watch out for are just the beginning. I tend to have stomach issues when I travel, especially cramping up on any flight over 5 hours. It takes a while to adjust once I reach a destination. I would imagine I’m not the only one with this issue. I also tend to fall off of motorbikes. I may be in the minority with that particular issue.
I’m writing this month’s recap on a bus on the way back to Bangalore, India from the town of Mysore. In the past few months, I’ve spent more time in Asia than in America and I wouldn’t have it any other way, especially right before the election.
“Where are you? I hear birds,” asked my mother the other night while we were talking on What’s App. I told her it wasn’t birds, it was actually the nonstop beeping of the auto-rickshaws and other vehicles. Considering I was on the 17th floor of our apartment building and she could still hear it in New Jersey, you can imagine how loud it is when you’re actually on the road.