Greetings from India!
After 24 hours of traveling, I am finally in Pune. I am sitting in the house that I will be calling home for the next 10 weeks. I will be living in a Bungalow in the Sindh Housing Society. The Bungalow is more like a compound and the housing society is like a gated community. The Bungalow has a 2-story-main house with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. There is a large living room and a kitchen. There is a smaller house in the back where one of the caretakers lives. There is also a very large yard with palm trees and mango trees. I am staying on the ground floor with my own bathroom and screened in porch. Thankfully, there is also an AC unit in my room that keeps it very cool for sleeping. When I got here last night at 2am, it was still in the 80’s, so I was very happy when the caretaker turned on the AC unit.
The caretakers woke me up around noon to eat lunch. I am very jet lagged right now. It is the middle of the afternoon here, and yet you are all sleeping back home. After I woke up, I ate lunch. First, the cook asked me in broken English if I liked chicken, if I liked it spicy, and if I liked Indian food. When I answered “yes” to all three, his eyes lit up and he got to cooking. Let me make one thing very clear: the food that I was made was absolutely delicious. I have no idea what any of it was, other than the chicken with curry, but it all tasted great. I hope every meal is like this. I did not come to India to eat like I was back home.
After lunch, I showered. The shower here is kind of weird, it is in the corner of the bathroom with no curtain. It is just a showerhead with a drain. After I showered, I went outside to have a look around. I told the caretaker I was going for a walk and he kept saying, “safe”. Normally this would make me feel at ease be he almost said it TOO much. Regardless, I set off for a walk. The housing society is huge and so are the houses in it. Many of them have security guards outside and there are plaques on the walls that tell me the neighborhood is full of doctors and army officers. After I walked for a while, I found one the gates out of the community and a busy road, full of traffic. Feeling ballsy, I decided to see what was out there.
There was not much traffic, but the streets were filled with pedestrians and street vendors. I walked around a corner and found myself at the edge of a large market. I headed in to see what I could find. The market was mostly small stalls about 8 feet wide and 6 feet tall. I had to duck to get into most of them. Everyone wanted to sell me things. I did not have much money on me and while I was there I decided I would try to find a converter for the outlets so I could charge my phone and laptop. I found a rather large Samsung store that was very Western on the inside. They sold me a phone charger for Rs. 1400 (about 23 USD). They did not have a laptop charger, but told me apple was a few stores down on the other side of the street. I kept walking. There were a few restaurants that looked like I might be able to eat at without having to worry about getting sick. I did not make it to Apple, however, because I found a little electronics store with an old man behind the counter. I had my iPhone charger in my pocket and showed it to him, he handed me a converter and I paid Rs. 40. (0.64 USD). Time to walk home and cool off in my AC.
I almost forgot; Pune is not a tourist destination. The people around here are not used to seeing a 6’3 white American walking down their streets. Because of this, they stare. And stare. When I make eye contact with them, they keep staring. It can be a bit unnerving and there are times when I want to just stick my tongue out at them to see what they will do. Anyway, whenever I talk about travelling around Pune, just assume that I am constantly being stared at. Also, while this place is beautiful, there are definitely glaring sanitation issues. Vacant lots are filled with trash, pigs, and stray dogs and cats. When the wind hits them just right, the smell can be staggering. I will not dwell on these things in my writings because India is truly a beautiful place, but it will be impossible to completely ignore them. Stay tuned, friends. Things are going to get interesting.
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