It is important to understand that it takes time to get to know India and to understand its complex story. Even after a month of cultural immersion, I can only say with confidence that I came to know a small amount about the city of Trivandrum and its home, the southern state of Kerala. It took nearly two weeks for me to accept that I was capable of coping in this environment and in the weeks that followed I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the people and all the chaos around me were beginning to leave their mark. I felt very fortunate to be learning from them.
The relationships I build are always the most important in all my travels. Each time thinking that I could not meet a better people or have a greater experience. However, it seems that even when you believe that things can’t get any better, somehow they do. This is not to take away from the previous experience, but new experiences build upon the old ones. And they are not necessarily better, but always different and unique.
My feelings towards India can be simplified into one word: patience. If you can hold on for long enough you will begin to see that behind all the chaos-masses of people, street congestion, loud noises-there is peace and feelings of tranquility, sought out in religion and strong family values. One of the American girls told me early on in our trip that the Indian people have love in their hearts. I didn't fully understand this until I became the recipient of many acts of kindness and generosity. Thanks to the ways of the people I will walk away from this experience with a renewed sense of family unity and a healthy dose of self-discipline.
When I return to India there will be many things to look forward to. Kerala's natural beauty, the sound of tropical rain falling on the palm trees, small seedless watermelons, endless cups of chai tea, lawless roads, music in the streets, always having company and most importantly, the reunion of unforgettable friends.