Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My First Day in Jaipur

I left Houston Sunday afternoon, and I am now here in Jaipur on Tuesday morning after 24 hours of flying and lay-overs. Before my travels I had just graduated from Northwestern University, sold my furniture, co-signed an auto loan for a 2010 Prius III, purchased auto insurance, prepared for my full time employment, and packed and unpacked my life from college. These past two weeks have been an emotional roller coaster as I attempted to figure out which pieces of my past I would bring into my adult, "real world" future. Every thing from my relationships to my class peers, sorority friends, boyfriend and more mundane items like silverware and alarm clocks had to be confronted, compartmentalized, and prioritized. With each meeting, I felt this sense of loss and also a feeling of excitement. I will be making new contacts, visiting my family, dancing with my salsa buds in Beaumont, using my houseware items in my own condo/townhouse, and developing my bond to Tim and my close friends in a unique and challenging way .

Nothing has been more abrupt then my arrival to Jaipur, however. My escort, Krishan, meets me at the airport. Almost immediately as I exit the airport, I am mobbed by beggar women. Krishan advises me not to give them anything. I ride in an auto rickshaw while he drives beside on his motorbike. I watch with amazement and fear as I sit in the back and look at this new world around me. A mixture of bicycles, motorbikes, taxi cabs, mule and cart, and automobiles all share the road. Also, I am sure we are going to run over Krishan. As I ride, I notice the ruin and marvel all within yards (or meters) of each other. Beautiful buildings next to rubble, litter along the well paved streets, gorgeous parks next to slums.

Thankfully we made it to a multi-story house called the Babylone House. About 10-12 AISEC students (the organization that arranges international traineeships) and Indian residents live here. Many students are leaving for home or another opportunity abroad this week, but more students should be arriving in July. By that time, I'll be a veteran. I am partially settled in as I sit in the shade of the patio to avoid roasting in the Indian sun. The house is in a nice neighborhood albeit a block away from the slums. My rent is 3000 rupees a month (about $65 USD). Thank god we have internet! They are very focused on conserving water, electricity, and gas here because resources are scarce in this semi-arid and developing area. Every one (especially Americans) who think(s) conservation and preserving the environment are useless and trivial need to visit India.

My landlord took me to the grocery store today, and there was so much good Indian food there. I didn't buy it, though, because I have no idea how to cook it. I got crackers and cheese, juice, bananas, yogurt, rice, cereal, and instant noodles. I'll probably be eating out a lot which will help the local economy and give me a richer cultural experience. My internship with Gram Bharati Samiti, an NGO that focuses on women's empowerment, the environment, and AIDS, will begin tomorrow. Several of the other interns also work for GBS. I am excited about the opportunity for field work. I hope my short stay will leave a positive impact on the area. I am truly fortunate to have the resources available to me in the States.

I hope to get a new camera soon so that I can post pictures, and I can hopefully cut down on my rambling.