What I’ll Miss About India (and What I Won’t)

Jodhpur Cityscape

This is my last post on Marwarology. I returned to the U.S. a couple days ago, so the blog doesn’t have much purpose any more. Over the next few weeks, I’ll convert it into a informative site about Jodhpur and its surroundings. All of the posts will remain online, in case anyone wants to look back at them. But after today, there won’t be any new ones.

It feels strange to be back in my home country. Although I’ve spent most of my life in the U.S., getting back to American life has required some adjustment, and it will require more over the next few weeks, for better or worse. There are some aspects of life in India that I’ll miss, and others that I won’t. To wrap things up, here are a few examples from both categories, in no particular order:

Things I Won’t Miss

  • Attracting constant stares from people on the street (children and adults alike)
  • People wanting to take photos with me like I’m some sort of freakish carnival attraction

Posing with Kids

  • The lack of Western manners (“please” and “thank you” are rarely used; lines frequently devolve into shapeless mobs; practices such as shoving, poking, spitting, littering, and public urination and defecation are conducted often and without shame)
  • Bargaining with rickshaw drivers
  • Rickshaw drivers in general
  • Overly persistent salespeople who descend on foreigners like vultures on a fresh carcass
  • Police officers, military officials, bureaucrats, and other snappy, unhelpful, and probably corrupt authority figures

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  • Sitting at the front of a bus (AKA “the death seat”, where it’s easy to see all of the oncoming traffic, obstacles, and other potential causes of a fatal crash)
  • Small, bumpy, and crowded roads
  • Horrendously bad attempts at “Western” food (white bread sandwiches slathered with glops of mayonnaise, Uncle Sam’s Pizza)

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  • Hearing the same Bollywood songs over and over ad nauseum
  • Not being able to understand most conversations
  • Not being understood
  • The similarity of my name to the Hindi word for sister (Ben vs. behin)
  • The inability of many Hindi speakers to understand my name when I say it out loud, even though it’s just a single syllable (“Your name is Pen? Bell? Bed?”)
  • The fact that people rarely explain what’s going on (even if it affects me directly)
  • The difficulty of receiving clear responses to simple questions, especially when those responses might clarify what’s going on
  • The lack of clear, useful information when it is needed most
  • The abundance of unwarranted, unhelpful information when it is not at all needed
  • Information that is vague, misleading, or blatantly false
  • Unreliable tap water
  • Streets filled with garbage, excrement, and every other type of filth imaginable
  • The stench of burning trash
  • The prevalence of firmly entrenched, old-fashioned gender roles
  • Living in a country where women are often restricted from staying out late or working outside the home
  • Being asked when I intend to get married
  • Frequent and partially serious offers to arrange a marriage for me
  • The custom of arranged marriage and its widespread acceptance in society
  • Strictly hierarchical social structures
  • The caste system
  • Not being around for important events at home
  • The fact that a city of 1.25 million often feels like a small town

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Things I Will Miss

  • Strangers who strike up friendly conversations on trains and in other public settings
  • Strangers who invite me into their homes for chai
  • Daily doses of chai (I think my record is six cups in a 24-hour span)
  • The food and other comforts at my guesthouse
  • Awesome street food (pani-puri, aloo tikka, kachoris, daal pakora, samosas)
  • The variety and quality of vegetarian dishes

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  • The assumption that a person’s food preferences are veg until proven non-veg, rather than all meat, all the time, as tends to be the default in the U.S.
  • The fact that local food is the norm, with vegetable markets located on practically every corner
  • The animals that roam the streets (the dogs, the goats, the monkeys, and even the occasionally terrifying cows)

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  • Being able to see Mehrangarh Fort from every rooftop in Jodhpur
  • The flat and easily accessible rooftops on top of every building
  • Exploring the streets of Jodhpur by foot or by cycle
  • Bringing lunch to work in a tiffin (a cylindrical steel lunchbox)
  • Getting a break from dysfunctional American politics
  • Brightly colored traditional clothing (such as saris, salwars, kurtas, and turbans)

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  • The little adventures that fill every day
  • Writing about those adventures on this blog

It’s been a good run, everyone. Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for my future projects. Although this blog is finished, I’ll absolutely find other opportunities for writing. Who knows, maybe I’ll even start another blog one of these days.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “What I’ll Miss About India (and What I Won’t)

  1. Varsha Kothari

    :)…. Waiting for your another blog..

  2. You just made me miss India, too. Hahahaha, Bell!

  3. Stephen Paul

    You are lucky to have had the chance to live in a culture very different from your own for almost 1 year. As the links to your blogs indicate within this final blog, you experienced the good, bad, best, and worst, and thereby can understand yourself and your own culture much better as a result of your life in India. And we blog readers appreciated being along for the ride. Thanks for the great writing and photos. Welcome back to the US! Good luck with your next adventures, and I hope that the bureaucracies you face are easier.

  4. hope you enjoyed staying in india, we will wait for ur next arrival !!!! 🙂

  5. Jinasaur

    Haha that’s an appropriate picture to end the blog. I enjoyed reading this. I hadn’t read your blog in a while, so I’ll have to retrospectively creep on you .. when I remember to (which, as you know, could be never). I’m glad that while you definitely better understand what you didn’t like, you also had so many great experiences you did like and that you were able to share. I’m also very glad you’re back 🙂 I missed you. See you on the East!

  6. gary soltoff (still no relationship)

    Now that you’re back, have I got a girl for you.

  7. Wendy

    Not enough pictures of monkeys. Otherwise, a nice finish….

  8. Madu

    Ben, Good stuff as always. Sorry to see that this is coming to an end. Keep us posted of future adventures. Heard of your Indian cooking at home now … Wendy seems to enjoy it 🙂

  9. shripal

    hi ben i have read all of your article thats are nice but not getting all of them. i wanna say to move from jodhpur to pali(about 70 km far from jodhpur)district city to collect some more information about thar and rajasthan where i can help you . good luck

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