Day 29 (Saturday, May 31): Until Next Time, India + Budget + Bucketlist

Woke up around 8:30am. I felt like sleeping in, but Lauren and I planned to get breakfast at 9am. I wore my red with green vines Fab India shirt. We walked down with Taniqua. I vlogged Taniqua signing her name in the book for the last time and then Lauren getting food. Breakfast: one toast, two pancakes, omelet, and tea. Alvian was there too. Lauren walked with me to vlog the library. Taniqua asked us to buy Orbit gum for her with 50 rupees. We peeked into the library café and at first glance thought they didn’t sell gum, but it was on the counter. I can faintly picture seeing gum in my memory of ordering food at the café, so I felt bad that we didn’t take the chance of going in. Drew inspired me to purchase a maroon-colored Kasturba Medical College t-shirt at the Manipal campus store. I had around 1000 rupees left. We said goodbye to the library by taking individual pictures with the Manipal sign.

IMG_1589Back at the hostel, I gave Taniqua her 50 rupees back. It was around 10:30am when I returned to my room and hardcore packed. I thought I wouldn’t finish on time. I gave Taniqua some Ziploc bags when she came over around 11am. I checked my room several times, took out the trash, and finished packing all my bags around 11:45am. We were supposed to be ready at 12:05pm, so I was cutting it close. Taniqua and I visited the small snack shop on the ground floor of our hostel to use more rupees. Lindsey and Ashley were already in the lobby with their luggage. I purchased a Tropicana Orange Juice and Lipton Iced Green Tea with Lemon and Mint. I brought my luggage downstairs, turned in the room key, and rolled the suitcase to the bus.

Taniqua and I sat in the very back. The tiny air-conditioned vent above made the ride more bearable. I updated this journal and listened to music on my iPod. I relished the Indian scenery for the last time. I was pretty productive, but started to get a headache towards the end of the drive.

Arrived at the Mangalore airport and our flight itinerary were checked twice by army-like men standing at the doors. Alvian suspected he was discriminated against when the guy only told him, “no smoking inside.” We went through the baggage scan and check-in. In line, Sesen pointed out a half Indian and half Caucasian family. The little girl was beyond beautiful. We parted ways with Dr. Raj, Paul, Ashley, and Rachel because they were on a separate flight. I shook Dr. Raj’s hand and thanked him for everything. Sesen teased him about emailing us his whereabouts (he’s going to Poland for a conference) and he said no one reads his emails anyways. I hugged Rachel and Ashley and waved goodbye to Paul. We went through the carry-on scan and body check. Sahanna and Sesen needed to empty their bags because of metal. The bathroom at the terminal was surprisingly really nice and could have been mistaken for one in the US equipped with modern toilets, toilet paper, soap, and hand dryers. Only when Lauren and I returned and raved about it, did the others go too. We boarded and I sat in seat 11B, one row away from first class. One of my personal goals on this trip was to engage in conversation with a stranger on the airplane. It didn’t quite work out on the way here, so I was hoping I would have a chance on the flights back home. I believe we have so much to learn from one another by just talking, and the prospect of learning new things from another person’s perspective excites me. The first flight was unsuccessful. For food, we got an Indian-styled chicken and pepper wrap that was surprisingly very good, a mini water bottle, and tea. I love the plane’s tea. I wonder what kind it is. People told me it’s just black tea. I napped for 15-minutes towards the end of the flight.

We had a 9-hour layover in Mumbai. Hopefully the time passes by fast. We had the opportunity to see the airport from the outside, and it is gorgeous: peacock design, uniquely shaped trees, water fountains, Indian flags, and white designed ceilings.

IMG_1597IMG_1600We went to a restaurant called The Square for food. Sahanna and I shared a vegetarian platter and lava cake.

IMG_1607IMG_1609As we were leaving to go through customs and immigration, we ran into Anna, Lauren, and Taniqua as they entered the restaurant. The interior of the airport could have been mistaken for a mall!

IMG_1611I bought a green silk scarf that came with bangles for my mom and a small wooden elephant keychain at a store called The Lotus. They accepted US dollars, so I paid with 530 rupees and 5 dollars. I think I have an obsession with buying elephant figurines. Sahanna played the first X-Men movie on her laptop to pass the time at the gate. Anna, Lauren, and Taniqua eventually came to our terminal and hung out. Anna wanted to take a couple pictures and was sent on a mission to buy soft drinks for Sahanna and Lindsey. I went with her because I was in the mood to walk around. We checked out a tea shop. Anna bought me Slice mango juice because I spent all of my rupees.

IMG_1624Slice was sold at the Italian fast food restaurant on the 2nd floor Manipal cafeteria, but I never had a chance to buy it. I was excited to finally try it and it was good! Everyone was right in that it tasted better than the Mazza brand. Lauren and Anna split a chocolate brownie with their last rupees. Back at the gate, I transferred Dr. Raj’s pictures to Alvian’s flashdrive for him and organized my pictures on the computer. We hugged and said goodbye to Lauren and Taniqua as they headed to their Amsterdam flight. Then, we found out our gate changed. We walked further down and parted with Anna when the paths forked.

IMG_5724We boarded the flight and I couldn’t sit next to Sahanna and Lindsey because the flight was full. I sat in the middle section of the aircraft in the third seat of a four seated row. I tried watching X-Men: Origins, but I fell asleep. The guy to my right at one point was almost leaning on my shoulder while he was sleeping. Vegetarian lunch: Indian food, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, tea, bread roll, and water. The woman to my left started a conversation by letting me know something is leaking from my backpack (water). We talked for a good half hour about India, studying, Mysore, medical school, education, her visits to the US, her son in New Jersey, the difference between taking care of elders in India and the US. The flight landed and she patted me on the shoulder saying she’s not sure if we’ll see each other on the next flight. I told her to have fun in New Jersey and she wished me good luck in my career. Aw, so nice. I started watching a movie called Serendipity when she started the conversation with me. Fun fact: that’s my favorite word and the actress in the movie said it was hers too, so I was intrigued to watch the movie. It’s about a woman that believes in fate and plays with a man’s heart by saying that they’ll part ways and if fate brings them together, it’s meant to be.

Landed in Brussels and went through a bag and body check. The workers ordered Sesen to unwrap her hair and she was reluctant at first, but complied in the end. We went shopping for Belgian Chocolate, but the price was exorbitant. We bought food from a café.

Boarded next plane to Newark. I got an aisle seat – woohoo! I was in the middle section of the aircraft again in a four seated row. Two people are in my row, but no one sat immediately to my right. I finished the movie Serendipity, and watched Silver Linings Playbook and Love Actually. I let a guy in the left section borrow my pen to fill out customs forms. Snack: flakes made of peas. One meal: Indian-style wrap and chocolate ice cream bar.

IMG_5743I slept for brief periods. Listened to Bollywood songs and read the book, Quiet.

Landed in Newark. I kind of wish I had window seats for the transatlantic flights, but I guess that’s something to look forward to on my next international trip. Went through US customs and retrieved luggage from the belt. A police officer was walking around with a sniffing dog. I was so scared the dog would find my cashews and force me to throw them away, but everything went well. We re-checked the bags and took a shuttle bus to our terminal. Bought food at Starbucks: turkey and cheddar sandwich and strawberry and banana Naked juice. At the terminal, I talked with mom and Arif on the phone and updated journal. Sahanna’s extension cord started a conversation with a family of four. He asked us how India was. He said he’s really curious about the Pakistan dividing moment. We parted with Sesen because she’s headed to DC to surprise her mom. I told her I am so glad I met her on this trip.

Boarded plane. This plane was a little larger than the ones that typically fly into Columbus. It’s two seats on either side of the aisle, but normally it’s two on one side and one on the other. My seat was 11A and I asked the man in seat B, “can I get in there?” And he jokingly said “no.” That’s when I knew we’d have a good conversation. I let a couple minutes of silence pass, while I updated the journal on my iPhone. Then, I asked him “were you in Newark?” He said “yeah. You?” Me- “India.” He said “wow.” Told him I’m on this flight with three other students that studied abroad in India for one month. He asked how it’s different there. I said it was a humbling experience and reminds me to not take things for granted, like toilet paper. We talked about OSU, my future career plans, his home and family in Newark, job in Columbus, Chinese food, skiing, and his summer plans. He was very talkative, which was nice because I can cross off conversing with a stranger off my traveling bucket list. We talked the entire flight. I periodically would look out the window and he would bring me back to conversation. He flies back and forth between Newark and Columbus every two weeks or so and mentioned he needs to plan out his flights like two weeks in advance to avoid high prices. I asked him what city he preferred. He said Columbus, mainly because of the traffic. He said it takes him 15 minutes to drive to work whereas in New Jersey, it takes a little more than an hour and you need to use public transportation. I said “yeah that’s added stress to the day.” He said although Ohio has no mountains or bodies of water, it’s a nice break. He said “for example, at home, I need to mow the lawn, weed, install various things, and do housework. But in Columbus, I can eat dinner, drink a glass of wine, watch TV, and relax.” Haha. I asked if it’s difficult traveling back and forth. He didn’t really complain and enjoys the change in scenery. We talked about his daughter, who is a senior in high school and he expressed his concern about her choosing a college. I offered to help if she is interested in Ohio State. I gave him my BLF business card (haha quite possibly the first time I have ever legitimately gave one out) and he gave me his. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end this once-in-a-lifetime trip. So surreal and so blessed.

IMG_5746 IMG_5751Money Spent
Cost:
Program Fee         $1,800
Air Ticket               $1,400
Personal                   $400
_____________________
Total cost               $3,600
Profit:
Wolfe Scholarship $2,500
Personal left             $100
_____________________
Spent:
Out-of-Pocket        $1,000

Bucketlist for India

  1. Ride a rickshaw & capture it on video
  2. Ride a camel
  3. Ride an elephant
  4. Ride the citibus
  5. Buy kurtis/saris/salwaar kamis
  6. Go to the beach
  7. Experience a “discotech”
  8. Make a local friend
  9. Go to a temple, perferably on a mountain
  10. Keep a blog and/or diary
  11. Try vlogging!
  12. Watch a Bollywood movie
  13. Eat on a banana leaf
  14. Drink tea
  15. O-H-I-O pic anywhere and everywhere
  16. Selfies anywhere and everywhere
  17. Try all food
  18. Watch a religious ceremony
  19. Handwash clothes
  20. Take lots of pictures and videos
  21. Go to the circus
  22. Purchase a Manipal t-shirt
  23. Explore the Manipal Anatomy & Physiology Museum
  24. Cross a busy street as a large group
  25. Try some Indian pastries at a bakery
  26. Take a picture with a monkey
  27. Eat/drink something mango flavored (be careful of raw fruit)
  28. Take a bucket shower
  29. Listen to Bollywood songs
  30. Wander and maybe get a little lost around a familiar place in a large group
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Day 6 (Thursday, May 8): Inspired by Life

*I am so behind on blog posts, but I will try to catch up! It’s difficult living in the moment while also documenting the details…*

For the first time, I did not wake up with my alarm that was set for 7:15am. The snooze button called my name, and I ended up sleeping until 7:45am. I even felt like I could have slept a couple more hours. Must have been the exhaustion finally catching up with me. At 8:30am, around ten people were still at breakfast. I wasn’t feeling the breakfast which was pancakes (Indian-style), curry and tea. I got two toasts for Taniqua.

At 9:20ish, I walked to the Manipal library with Adam. We had to wait outside the room a little past 9:30am while more of our people trickled in. Dr. Raj’s lecture was about ethics and health systems. He talked about how schooling works here:

Grades 1-7: Elementary and Middle School
Grades 8-10: High School. Pick science or humanities track. Highly preferred track is engineering or medicine.
Grades 11-12: Pre-university
College: Professional school

Once you pick a track, you’re essentially stuck in it. Ex. no changing majors like in the US and no freedom to pursue a medical degree despite earning a BS in art.

Other quick facts:

1. In India, people visit the doctor only when they are sick. Once given the treatment and they feel better, they won’t return despite the doctor’s advice. This reminds me of my mom when we had no health insurance. She went to see an eye doctor because of a floaty and flash of light. They told her it’s a normal process of eye aging. The doctor told her to come back in 4 weeks to check-up on it. She never did because of cost, and the fact that there’s no treatment.

2. Raj was a part of the SAGE cognitive test project, which I happened to see on the OSU College of Medicine YouTube several months ago. Haha I guess it does pay off to watch every single video that they post. It’s a questionnaire to test if an individual’s cognition and memory is declining with old age. If the frequent testing shows a sharp decline in scores of the SAGE test, that is a harbinger of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is of particular interest to me because of my grandmother and background in Neuroscience.

Dr. Raj wants to take us to the circus because someone from our group asked and also on a tour of the Manipal/Kasturba Medical College hospital. He said he did not want to go to the hospital (sounds like he adversely hates the hospital environment), but can arrange a visit for us. I am looking forward!

Went to the Manipal store after class and bought a blue Manipal U – inspired by life t-shirt for 450 rupees ($7.50). I chose it because of the displayed motto – inspired by life. About five other people were in the store also and a couple people bought sweatshirts for $22. They felt very soft and comfy but I wouldn’t wear it here so not a good investment. I tried to find postcards, but they didn’t have any. Dr. Raj informed me a couple days ago that Mysore would have some.

IMG_5299Lunch consisted of barley rice, sweet rice, beans, veggie curry (my fave) and another type of curry. Walked back to room around 1pm with Lindsey. I tried on the t-shirt, and it was a little too loose-fitting, but I guess that’s good for India. It’s also 100% cotton so it’ll shrink. I walked over to the library by myself. Walking alone can be so refreshing. I pay more attention to the environment and people and think about how blessed I am to be able to study in this country on the other side of the world.

All of our students were in the rock garden when I arrived, and Adam led the way to the classroom. Dr. Bhat talked about secularism and social change in India. Adam inquired about my blog, and I gave him the URL. Makes me happy when others are interested in reading. Writing is a passion of mine, and it’s exciting to share it with an audience other than myself. Dr. Bhat told the Manipal administration people to turn down the AC, so it felt comfortably warm in the classroom as opposed to an ice box. He’s so cute. He told the people he has class at 3:30pm so that they would turn it down right away.

IMG_0401Dr. Raj told us to meet him on the ground floor of the Manipal Library so that we can get our ID pictures taken to access the gym facility. Meanwhile, several of us were reading the bulletin boards. One was by a de-stress organization advertising their multitude of activities. The second one was a women empowerment board with international women leaders. The third one had posters and ads. Dr. Raj told us about the computer room on the first floor too. The ID place was across the street from the university near the market. It was a passport photo place.

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Tea time: coffee cake and bread with curried veggies inside. I enjoyed the bread. Went back to dorm to chill until dinner. Signed up for room cleaning with Lindsey. I was feeling really sleepy up until dinner. I saw Lindsey locking her door as I opened my door, so I told her to meet me downstairs.

Dinner: rice, potato curry and 2 other types of curry. I got a small portion, which was the perfect amount. Others got pizza, Chinese food and Subway from the second floor cafeteria. Went back to room to take a shower. During my shower, the cleaning lady came, and I felt bad but thankfully she returned around 9:30pm. It was weird sitting on my bed waiting for her to clean the room. Not used to having other people do things that I normally perform myself, but it does provide a piece of mind for me because I love cleanliness. She even wiped the table! Was not expecting that. She has to keep the door open and that made me paranoid because of the bugs at night especially in the rain. I’m gonna try to keep my room very clean. I skyped mom for about an hour. I was studying also so wasn’t too into conversation but it actually made my day a little better. Knowing someone cares about you. I think I had a slight bout of homesickness today. I felt kind of lonely, and it’s probably partly my own fault for not reaching out to others but it’s so hard to change natural tendencies. I should keep reading the book I brought with me on this trip, “Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by: Susan Cain, to discover some truth in this personality type and how to be a better citizen of the world as a reserved person. Look out for a blog post about the book in the near future 🙂 The thunderstorm could be heard all night, and the power switched off twice for a couple minutes. I thought electricity would be out for the night, but it was okay after several minutes. I studied for the first quiz until 2am. I need to get to bed earlier.