I apologize ahead of time about how boring this post will be. I’m at a bit of a standstill with work right now and while I do have projects, they really wouldn’t interest anyone. It’s a lot of excel spreadsheets and compilation of information. They just need to be done.
I am at a point in my time in India that is “in-between.” I have almost exactly three weeks left here. Molly will leave in two and that’s technically when my official time as an intern “ends”, but I’ve decided to stay on for another week in Pune, which is technically everyone else’s spring break. Next week Molly and I are going to Hyderabad to visit some friends and see the city and three days after we return she will leave. It’s a short amount of time. And yet day to day it really isn’t. My projects continue to be nebulous but nothing “big” or worth writing about extensively. Just to say, I’m plenty busy creating content for the digital initiative.
Whenever you’re in an unfamiliar place, traveling, and alone, everything feels like sign you’re either completely out of place or totally welcome. I saw a dead dog on the side of the road this week. The dog was, momentarily, a sign of everything wrong with my experience. It had been a hard day and I was taking a walk to clear my head, soon realizing the busy Pune streets may not be the best place to do this. Minutes after seeing the dog, I saw a ball rolling across the open road. Picking it up, I made eye contact with a small boy running after it. We spoke a few words of Marathi to each other. When I tossed it back to him, his face lit up. “I belong!” my heart exclaimed. The whole mood of the day changed. I smiled at the andi bhaji wallas and bhajya wallas on the street, the sun shined brighter. A success of the most irrelevant and minute quantity can turn everything around.
When traveling, success is huge and failure looms just as large. Positive attitude cannot be understated. It’s sort of like the motto “fake it till you make it” – you have to act happy and productive even when you are not. I excitedly talk up projects with family and friends I’ve made in Pune, even when I know that we are at a dead end with the project, or I have little faith it will be completed by the end of March.
It has been nice, now that we are nearing the end of our time, to actually verbalize everything I have been doing in Pune with family and friends back home. However, turning to the States has negative aspects to as I’ve felt pulled little by little out of Baner and Shivajinagar and Gokhalenagar and back into the Hill, SU, the CD, and current issues at home.
It’s hard to strike a balance. However, this is my fourth time being abroad for over a month in a foreign country and I can say that this is honestly the first time I’ve stopped counting my days. I really feel like I could stay in Pune and keep working for months, even a year or longer. The feeling makes me so warm in the thought that “Hey, I could do this sustainably for a long time.”
Riskiness in travel is so exhilarating. Putting yourself out there to make friends, meet new people, experience new words is a constant evolution of your thoughts and self. It’s not just the risk of fumbling either, it’s the risk of always putting your whole mindset out, without knowing what the result will turn out to be.
I love meeting people all over the world because of that vulnerability, because your beliefs are always open to being crushed by the world – your whole worldview just waiting to be destroyed around the corner. There’s no better place for that than in India, a place of constant contradiction. F Scott Fitgerald once said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” All my experiences here have constantly pushed me to do hold many opposing concepts and ideas in my mind at once. It’s an incredibly humbling process, but also rewarding practice to embrace.
In my last three weeks in Pune, I am trying to embrace it tighter than ever… and of course plot my return.