Today is our final day in Hubli and I promise to come back again. Veereshwari wrote that last part but it is certainly true, I don’t want this to be my last time in Hubli. After reflecting back on the entire trip, it’s hard to believe that I have only been here for a couple weeks, as it feels like months. This experience and trip could not have turned out any better. I made some great friends, experienced new cultures, and ate some great food.
Speaking of food, I never knew how good Indian food is until I came here. I’ve gone to Indian restaurants a handful of times before but they could not compare to the home cooked meals I was treated to here. I must have gone to about ten houses to meet my friend’s family and be treated to a big meal. I’ve come to find out that it is nearly impossible to say no to more food, you eat and eat and eat until you can’t have another bite.
So we have one more night to go. The entire group is going to Seven Beans and then out to celebrate our journey. We leave for Bengaluru in the morning and then on to Dehli tomorrow evening. The journey went by so fast but the memories will always remain. I hope my friends from India, China, and Japan will one day travel to America so I can extend the same hospitality and welcome that I was granted here. At the very least, I hope they are still in the area when I come to visit this country next time.
This blog is coming near the end of my stay India, and not due laziness or procrastination, but because I haven’t really had a chance to stop and slow down the entire trip to write one. From the moment I wake up until I head to bed, I have been constantly busy. Whether visiting one of my friend’s homes for a meal, visiting a far off hilltop to watch the sunset, traveling around the city by motorcycle and rickshaw, or exploring Hubli’s nightlife, I haven’t had a chance to take a moment and reflect. So I will try and do that here.
One of the most memorable experiences I have had here in Hubli has been visiting two orphanages to play with the children and donate school supplies, games and toys, and some sporting equipment. Both visits were unique in their own right, as one of the orphanages is a private orphanage that only receives funding through donations and small government support, the other orphanage was a much larger, all girls organization that brought in children who came from troubled homes, or were sent there through the court system. However, the children were absolutely awesome in both organizations as they performed dances and sang songs for us. One of the most memorable moments took place at the all girls orphanage in which we brought in some sporting equipment. I am a big sports fan and it is my belief that sports are able to bridge the gap between cultures to bring them closer. We donated a bunch badminton rackets and birdies, so we were able to play with the kids. One girl in particular picked up the racket immediate and began to display her skills against all of the adults that challenged her. I’d like to refer to myself as a pretty decent player who would be able to beat most kids at a sport, but this girl was amazing. By the time the match was over, I don’t think I scored a single point against her. She said she loves to play and that she was happy we brought some new equipment, to which I told her to keep practicing everyday and that I hope to see her on TV one day. The experience shaped some of my personal beliefs and made me think about what more I could do. It is easy to ignore these types of real world problems from the comfort of our own lives, but even an afternoon of playing with these kids made a large impression on me, and will continue to last with me for a very long time.
My first Indian wedding is an experience that I will never forget. It was a complete surprise that a fellow student in our class had extended an invite for our entire class to come to his sister’s wedding. We ride by bus through the busy city and made it to the venue. It was to my surprise to see just how many people were attending the wedding, which amounted to over 3,000 people. We were taken into the huge room filled with people wall to wall who were handing out pieces of flowers to throw at bride and groom, who were standing on a big stage. We were taken to the front, allowed to go onto the stage to take photos and congratulate the bride and groom.
What was really amazing to me was the fact that these people invited complete strangers and foreigners into their wedding without hesitation, and treated us like family. We were directed up to the stage to meet the newly weds and take pictures as if we all knew who everyone was. It was a very amazing experience in which I enjoyed immensely, and something I was grateful to be apart of.
Prior to leaving for India, I felt a number of different emotions ranging from excitement, nervousness, curiosity, hesitation and fear of the unknown. After meeting with the rest of our group and speaking with those who have participated in the trip from previous years, many of my worries were quickly relieved, as everyone seemed to hold the same feelings before they left and they swiftly went away.
Additionally, upon boarding our first flight from Boston to Dubai, and finding out that I was upgraded to Business Class, my anxiety levels quickly went out the window, as it was one of the smoothest and enjoyable flights I have ever been on. I was handed a glass of champagne fifteen seconds after sitting down, a bowl of warm nuts, a warm towel, and they even handed out mattresses to put on your chair to make falling asleep that much easier. I am not sure how I lucked out so much but I found out I wasn’t the only one. A few of us going on the trip were upgrading including the girl sitting next to me headed to Swaziland. After starting a conversation with the other lady sitting to my left, I found out that she is a student from MIT traveling to a workshop related to start-ups. We exchanged our information and since she is very familiar with Hubli and the surrounding areas, was excited to let me know which sites and restaurants to visit. This encounter was very welcoming as I could begin to sense the hospitality that everyone has for the guests in their country. Seeing that my voyage to the other side of the world was so pleasant and enjoyable, it only made sense to me that this is going to be a trip and experience that I will never forget.