Culture Shock in India
I was so excited when I took the plane that took me to the land of the Taj Mahal. I knew it would be different but what I saw when I left the airport was more than different. I felt I was in Zombieland.
We came to India in the early morning (3am). When we were in the van from the airport to the hostel, my first impressions during that journey was chaos. The way they drive in India is completely insane (and impressive if you think about it). As we arrived to our hostel, the van began to slow down in the street. Because it was late, EVERYTHING was closed and the view was not at all that of something you want to see during your first few hours in a new country. There were piles of garbage in the middle of the street, dust, and cows walking around and eating the waste. There was fog, which made the scenario look even more apocalyptic.
I felt like I was on a movie set and suddenly a zombie was going to appear at the window. The van stopped and we saw a hotel that did not look bad, which made relax a bit. We took our bags and headed there but then the driver told us that was not our hostel. We noted a dark alley and my eyes opened more than usual. We walked there and you could even hear the sound of leaking water. At the end of the alley, we could see our hostel with a sign that read “Sweet Dreams.” “Sweet dreams, my ass” I thought.
We entered and three men, one young and two in their late forties, stared at us. We got a bit scared. They said nothing for a long time and after, they just asked for our passports and the money for the room. We were taken to a large room with a metal door The young man handed us a lock. That was how we were going to close the door. The room had four beds and two bathrooms; one of them did not work and the other was full of mold on the walls. The sheets were soiled and stained as if they were once white but were not anymore. That night I slept all covered; I put on socks, my jacket, the hood of my jacket and put on a skirt as a sheet. It was really dirty. My cousin brought a teddy bear blanket that I made fun of him for having brought it. It turned out that in India that blanket was a required item and a thing I dreamed to have.
The next day, we got up and showered, trying not to touch the moldy wall. The water was icy but that was our fault because we did not realize, until the end, there was a button for hot water! We left our luggage in the hostel and prepared to see Delhi. That night we were going to take a bus to northern India and head back to Delhi at the end of the trip. We went out to the alley and it was pure movement, but it was still scary.
My sister invited us to have chai that was sold on the street. After drinking it, we realized that right next to the man who sold it, there was a public restroom (public restrooms for men are outdoor stone urinals). Before he sold us the chai, he was using the urinal! How gross! Most people we encountered were just trying to convince us to go somewhere and buy something, but it gets a little annoying. As we continued walking, another man approached us and he began to follow us too. My cousins and I were scared. My sister has been living in India for four months so she knew how everything worked there already and did not take notice of the men. She just told us to avoid him. Within 24 hours of being in India, our impression was not good and every thing that came out of the blue only surprised us and frightened us more. It was pure culture shock!
That same day, at night, we returned to the hostel for our luggage and India started to feel more gentle. A man with a beautiful girl asked me if I could take a picture. He wanted me to take a picture with my own camera with his daughter. The girl was afraid of me now. I think that was when I began to relax more and appreciate the place where I was standing. Everyone is afraid of everyone new.
Today, for me, India is a country I can’t wait to visit again. Hopefully I can walk those streets again and soon. Yes, it is quite different from what you are probably used to but what country is the same as yours? How boring would the world be if there were exactly the same places from north to south. After I started to appreciate India, I came to the understanding that it is a magical chaos full of colors, dance and curry… and I must say that I love curry.