The End of the Road

All 23 members of our amazing IES group at our Final Banquet. On my post-program tour, I stopped first at Navdanya, the seed-saving farm organized by activist Vandana Shiva. After visiting Agra again, we went to the camel festival in Pushkar! The city was overrun by people coming to the fair, but was also filled with small sanctuaries and quiet temples. Our next stop was Udaipur, a stunning city that has been nicknamed the Venice of the East. From the City Palace Museum, we could see the entire town. By night, the City Palace itself looks incredible from across the lake. We also took a short break to visit the backwaters of Kerala in southern India. Finally in Mumbai, we had an interesting (but entertaining!) stay at the Hare Krishna Temple guest house.

Sitting in snowy Minnesota, jet-lagged and catching up on all the holiday preparations I missed, this past month already seems more than a lifetime away. I spent the first few weeks with my mom, who came to join me on a DIY tour to visit Gandhi sites and NGOs around the country, then two weeks with my cousin, who had taken time off to come visit me. It was a busy trip, but it gave me the chance I needed to reflect on the semester and still experience more of this beautiful, insane, culturally rich and complex country.

In some ways I feel like I slept through five months and dreamt it all. To quote Yann Martel (yes, I am a huge fan), “It was as unbelievable as the moon catching fire.” I learned about an entirely different part of the world, and I learned about myself. I came to appreciate shower curtains, trash cans, and the ability to be invisible. And I made connections with people from San Francisco to London to Mumbai. I might be in no hurry to return, but that’s largely because I’ve taken so much of it with me, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.