I wanted to give you a sample of what it looks like to be on the other side of the world, for those who wonder about how different it can be from the west.
Some context… Why India?
I should start by saying that I have always dreamed of living in Asia. Besides, I have an Indian girlfriend called Karuna Srivastava. We lived together in the US for five months, and we spent another five months apart before seeing each other again. The world pandemic made this trip almost impossible … embassies were not giving visas, and countries had limited flights. Despite the obstacles, destiny’s throw of dice found a way to bring me here.
To take my flight to India, I was required to have a negative test in hand to board the airplane. If you haven’t heard of Murphy’s law, it says that anything that can go wrong sooner or later will go wrong. The day before my flight, the result showed that my covid test was positive. I didn’t have any symptoms, and I was not exposed to anyone who had tested positive. My girlfriend urged me to take a second test, as it could have been a laboratory mistake. Although I was not very optimistic about how a second test could fix the situation (false-positives are quite unlikely), it was a miracle that I tested negative on the second examination.
48 hours of travel
The itinerary was 11:40 pm- 5:20 am (around 6 hours), 15 hours of layover in New York, 2 hours of a train from JFK to Newark airport, 15 hours flight to Mumbai, 8 hours landover, 1-hour flight to the state of Goa, and finally 1 hour of a taxi to the island of Divar.
The trip, in general, went reasonably smoothly, mainly because I took 5 milligrams of melatonin that knocked me out on both flights.
Map of Goa and Divar Island
What has been curiously shocking
First, Jetlag is brutal. When people travel rapidly across time zones, the disruption in the body’s circadian rhythms will make you sleepy during the day and awake during the night. Having a cocktail of acids most likely give you the same notion of fainting and headaches. It takes a couple of days to be functional.
Second, I was expecting to find the same level of danger as in Colombia. To my surprise, you can walk with your phone or computer in the street, and no one will rob you. It seems that the resentment of lower socio-economic classes towards upper classes that you usually find in any other country with a substantial social classes gap doesn’t occur in India. Hindus have a Caste system, and lower levels accept their misery as part of their Karma. I am inclined to do further exploration of this phenomenon.
Third, since India was a British Colony, cars have the steering wheel on the right side, and people drive on the road’s left side. So far, all the streets I have seen are relatively narrow and mostly two ways. It is quite an adventure to drive in India. I should not forget to mention that there are no sidewalks. Everyone shares the road… cars, scooters, kids, cows, dogs, etc.
As it is easy to guess, it is pretty hot. Nonetheless, locals use their traditional Sari Clothing throughout the entire day, every day. So far, I feel very comfortable on the island. Ants are everywhere; bland Indian food is still pretty spicy. There are no showers in the house I am staying at (you have to use a bucket).
Exotic Fruits I have tried: Chiku and Pomegranate
Some Additional Notable Facts:
- India currently has 10 hours and a half difference in the time zone from Eastern Time.
- Unfortunately, consuming tap water in India carries the risk of water-borne diseases such as Dysentery and Typhoid. Drinking unfiltered water in India is the number one cause of illness for foreign travelers.
- The currency is Rupees. $1 on average is 70 Rupees. 500 ($7) is more than the daily wage income for millions of Indian workers. As you can imagine, living expenses are meager.
- India has different dialects. Every state speaks its own language, but the default will be Hindi and English.
- Cows are considered sacred. Killing a cow is against the law. Cows have the liberty to travel where they please.
- India’s population is 1.3 billion people, the second largest population after China. It isn’t hard to find yourself to be the only white person in many places.
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