Holy crap, everyone, India was amazing!
I've been home for a week now, but I got word in the Mumbai airport just before we flew home that my grandmother had passed away. She'd been ill for quite some time, and she was 85, so it was not a huge surprise, but still very sad news to get on my way home. I ended up landing and then leaving the city about 14 hours later to head off to BC for the memorial. The combination of fatigue and stress meant that the mild virus I picked up on an overnight bus to Lucknow blossomed into a full-on flu, so I'm just now getting back to regular life.
India was an incredibly beautiful, complicated, difficult place. I absolutely fell in love with the country, but I also found the poverty so hard to face. When we got off the plane, it was almost immediately there--there were people begging as we left the airport, and as we drove through the Mumbai night, I could see the people literally lining the sidewalks, whole families sleeping at the side of the road with maybe a tarp to shelter them if they were lucky. On the other hand, I have never felt so warmly welcomed by people. The Indians I met were frequently so kind, inviting us to their homes, feeding us amazing meals, and welcoming us like we were family. Also, the young people I met there were so brilliant and driven to create change. I visited some universities and was blown away by the talented students I encoutered. India really is undergoing incredible change and is going to have a major impact on the world stage over the next while, and you can see what's driving it when you meet some of the innovative minds behind that change.
Primally, it was a mixed experience. I definitely did a lot of moving slowly while exploring historic sites, touring university campuses, visiting villages, and just getting around. Took some risks in using autorickshaws, though, or even just crossing the street (look both ways and run--sprint workout!). Almost everything we ate was fresh and local, but it was hard to avoid some sort of grain or bean content. I tried to keep it to a bit of white rice or maybe some chickpea flour stuff, but a lot of Indian cuisine is carbs with a side of carbs, particularly the vegetarian stuff, which is almost unavoidable in some cases if you want to eat at all (and you can only IF for so long). My strength workouts fell by the wayside despite my good intentions on departure. The academic schedule was overwhelming many days, and I ended up basically passing out by the time I made it back to my room, which meant a lot of using my brain was happening, but sometimes at the detriment of caring for my body.
However, I did have some cool adventures. I snorkeled in the Arabian Sea off Goa and did a trek up to Triund above McLeod Ganj in the Dhauladhar mountains (part of the Outer Himalayan mountains), about 2900m above sea level. Oh, and I climbed up there in my Treks...I'll post the photos later. I have about a million stories to tell.
In the end, I'm five pounds lighter, several shades more tanned (still pale, but very brown for me!) and full of a renewed excitement for international work. Not bad at all.