My past week or so has been riddled with adventure and activity so I will be the first to say that this blog post may just turn into a reflective list on what my past few days have involved. India has an unbelievable number of activities, sites, museums, temples, monuments and opportunities for exploration. Just traveling around Pune and Maharashtra has been wonderful and although there were many obstacles and difficulties that simply would probably not happen in the United States, the week turned out to be incredible all the same. To be blunt, India is an utterly confusing place. It can sometimes be frustrating. And it certainly can be complex. And yet, it is also constantly breathtaking.
With that said, my week long story started just a week ago, when my roommate and I were invited to play soccer with one of our Indian friends from the neighboring university. I started by warning him that my soccer skills were probably not up to par seeing as I have not played a legitimate game since I was 13. However, far too many “study-abroad alumni” from home had advised me to just “Say yes to everything!” or “Be open to new adventures!” for me to say no to a soccer game in India. Low and behold it was quite the feat even getting to the field. After an hour in an Uber and a few phone calls to our friend, we finally reached the field and began warming up. (Side note: possibly one of the most difficult things for me is navigation. Therefore, getting to this field was one of the most impressive accomplishments of my life) Anyways, our friend had told me it would just be a fun (and presumably uncompetitive) game however, it turned into quite the intense competition. And, unsurprisingly, my soccer skills had not improved since age 13. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to get to know some new people and experience a team sport in India first hand.
India provided quite the opportunity to face new challenges and absorb massive amounts of culture and history.
Just a few days later, I hopped on the Pune Darshan bus tour with some friends and explored the top sites that our host city has to offer. Although I am starting to grow accustomed to Pune, having the opportunity to see so many historic buildings and beautiful monuments all within the span of a few kilometers was pretty extraordinary. One minute we were walking around some immaculately detailed South Indian temples and the next minute we were looking inside of Aga Khan Palace, a beautiful building constructed by Sultan Muhammed Shah Aga Khan the third but used by the British as a prison during their colonial rule over India. Most notably, it held Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi from 1942-1944. On the tour, we also saw the Peshwar’s palace from the days of the Maratha Empire. Not to mention that I was fortunate enough to have the chance to test out almost every ATM in Pune! I forgot to pack extra money and ATMs here can be slightly particular with international cards. So after a few frantic dashes to banks neighboring the historic sites, I was able to eat lunch at a delicious North Indian restaurant. Again, India provided quite the opportunity to face new challenges and absorb massive amounts of culture and history.
As I reread this post, I find myself laughing at how insane this week sounds. If I could explain to you how life in India unfolds in such a chaotic manner while somehow raveling its way back into something extraordinary, trust me I would. But for now, I have no answer. India is just something to behold.