I leave this place on tonight. I cannot believe it, but I am looking forward to what is to come. I am sad to leave but so happy to go home and reunite with my family and friends there. I thought I would compile a little list of things that I going to miss (besides, obviously, my friends and co-workers). So, here goes.
1. Auto Rickshaws. I love them. At first, they are a little scary, but then after a while you get used to it. It eventually becomes a soothing ride. I do my best thinking in autos. Man, I will miss that "fresh" air blowing through my hair!
2. Cheap, fresh, delicious produce that is delivered to your doorstep. We have great vegetables and fruit that will make you want to slap the person who ever invented canned vegetables and fruit. I will never be able to eat canned pineapple without regret. And...all this great produce can be delivered to you by your friendly neighborhood vegetable wallah.
3. Someone who comes to my door in the morning, takes my un-ironed laundry then returns it before lunch...all for less than $1.
4. Our security guards. Now, don't get me wrong. We don't think they could ever chase down and subdue a perpetrator, but they are just about the friendliest and kindest people you'll ever meet. The first time I cried about leaving this country was when I realized I would never see my favorite security guard again.
5. Speaking another language and making someone's day when you do. Everyday is an adventure when you are trying to communicate in a tongue that is not your "mother tongue." it sure is fun (and funny when you make mistakes) and so wonderful when a person you meet proudly thanks you for learning to speak their language.
6. The clothes! My style and eye for fashion has certainly changed. I love how bright and colorful everything is. I am going to think clothes in America are so "blah" when they are one color and without pattern.
7. The food and eating with my hands. Cheese paper dosa, fresh lime soda, dal, bende kaiyi palya, garlic nan...yummy. And, anyway, who needs utensils?
8. Chai breaks. Anytime, anywhere, with anybody...chai is a symbol of hospitality and kindness. No matter the time, the place or the people- there is always time for some tasty chai. Also, the city stops at 4 p.m. for chai.
9. The way people are willing to drop everything they had to do that day to help you with something whether it be shopping for a new sari, paying your electric bill or giving you a ride to somewhere on the other side of the city.
10. The custom of taking your stinkin' nasty shoes off at the door. Why don't we do this? It makes your house stay cleaner longer.
11. Customer service. Although, it's not always that efficient or helpful sometimes, the concept of customer service is very important in this culture. You can walk into a simple clothing store and there will be more than enough salespeople to help you find exactly what you are looking for in the right color and size. I think I'll go into a normal clothing chain in America and wonder "Where are all the salespeople? And why can't I get anyone to help me out?"
12. Milk in little bags. No need for huge plastic jugs, milk in little bags is the way to go. I wonder how it will feel to take a whole gallon jug out of the fridge in the morning. Heavy.
13. My gym. I love my gym here. It is fully equipped with everything you need for cardio and strength training, and you even have a personal trainer, dietician and physical therapist I will never be able to afford that in America.
14. Care packages. I mean, who's gonna send me Mac 'n Cheese, salsa seasoning packets, M & M's and the like when I live in America?
15. Doing absolutely nothing when it rains and not feeling bad about it. When it rains in America, life has to carry on as usual. When it rains here, well, life cannot carry on as usual.
16. Two words: Mango. Season.
17. Our neighborhood. Oh, Malleshwaram. You have everything I need within walking distance and some really cool people to boot.
18. The wild donkeys that roam our neighborhood. Every other area of town has, understandably, cows roaming the streets. But, not ours. We have wild donkeys. That charge at us sometimes. I won't miss that, but I will miss how fun it is to count the new donkeys every now and then. They multiply rapidly.
19. South Asian hospitality. People here are very hospitable, always inviting you in to their homes even if they just met you. You will always be greeted with a glass of water, then chai and biscuits and, if you stay long enough, a delicious home-cooked meal.
20. The shopping. Most everything worth buying is beautifully hand-crafted and cheap. I love our local handicraft shops and markets, and I will miss visiting them and my favorite shopkeepers. They always make my day when I go shopping with "The best price for you, Madame. This shop is yours because you are a regular customer."
(P.S. I wanted to add pictures that went along with each point on the list, but the internet is not cooperating. Sorry!)