Hello phase two

Bhubaneswar Travel Blog

 › entry 20 of 29 › view all entries
Manoj from my office (on the left) and Amulya, my regular autowallah, accompanied me on the expedition to the post office

Well, the time has arrived to leave my volunteer assignment and Bhubaneswar.  I’ve been in India nearly four months, which is surreal.  Culture shock is behind me.  I developed a daily routine of going to work, cooking dinner, and chatting with my roommate in the evening.  I made some friendships at work, and became part of the office.  All of which proves to me that I’m a creature of habit, craving routine and creating it even in a foreign environment.  That said, I still have moments, probably every few days, when something happens that makes me say, “Holy ---!  I’m in India!”  Little Debbie Siegel from Long Island is living in India.  Wacky.

Outside the post office, sewing a cloth cover onto a box; those little packets are tobaccos and mouth fresheners

 

This might be a slightly masochistic tendency, but noticing the comfort of my routine is a signal that it’s time to move on to new experiences, shake things up.  I tend to forget that change is hard, and vow each time before embarking on something new that when I’m in the thick of it -- feeling frustrated, lonely, tired -- I’ll remember that it will pass and get easier.  One thing I’ve definitely learned is that those feelings will come, so at least I’m not surprised when it happens.

 

The original plan was to go straight home when my assignment was over.  But somehow it just doesn’t feel like my time in India’s complete yet.  Besides, I have no clue where I want to live or what kind of job to get when I return to the US.

The guy on the right is sewing cloth onto one box, and the guy on the left is applying wax seals on the other
  I’m already all the way over here, and how often in life does a person get a chunk of free time with no commitments at home?  The hardest part is missing my family.  I’m so lucky; they’ve been so supportive of this trip and my decision to extend my time a bit. 

 

My final act in Bhubaneswar was to send home some stuff.  (Long story short, rather than leave a suitcase somewhere and have to deal with picking it up later, I sent a couple of boxes home.)  This was my first time sending a parcel home (or sending anything -- I have yet to write a single postcard, sorry!), so I don’t know if my experience was typical, but I’m guessing it was.  Every parcel sent domestically or internationally has to be wrapped in white cloth to be accepted by the post office, why I have no idea.  So, naturally there’s a guy who provides this service who has set up shop just outside the post office.

  He cut the cloth, hand-sewed the seams (!), and then another guy sealed every seam with wax.  It took an hour (outside in the heat) to wrap three boxes, two large and one small.  Total cost: 220 rupees, about $5.  The sheer number of people in India makes manual labor cheap and plentiful.  But it isn’t exactly efficient. 

 

So I’m headed to the northwestern part of India, with towns in the Himalayas that stay cool and provide escape from the crushing heat.  Tonight I fly to Delhi and meet up with my friend Anna; on Friday we’re taking the train up to Amritsar to see the Golden Temple.  On Sunday Anna heads back to Delhi, and then I’m on my own.

Every seam on the box had to be sealed with wax
  My first stop is Dharamsala and McLeod Ganj, where the Dalai Lama lives in exile.  I’ve signed up for a couple of meditation courses, so if I stick to my plan I’ll be there for about three weeks.  Staying in one place for a while vs. moving around every couple of days seems like a good way to ease into traveling on my own.  At least I hope so.  It's high season in Dharamsala (since it's cooler than in the plains), and I expect that there will be lots of other foreigners.  (In fact, I’m sure of it, since many guest houses were full when I booked a room last week.)

 

Here we go!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Manoj from my office (on the left)…
Manoj from my office (on the left…
Outside the post office, sewing a …
Outside the post office, sewing a…
The guy on the right is sewing clo…
The guy on the right is sewing cl…
Every seam on the box had to be se…
Every seam on the box had to be s…
Oh. My. God.  It was sooo hot out,…
Oh. My. God. It was sooo hot out…
The cloth sewing guys
The cloth sewing guys
Bhubaneswar
photo by: debrasiegel