I have already been in India for a week, but between getting settled in and not having internet for the first few days the creation of this blog has been unduly delayed. So I will do my best to start from the beginning.
This adventure began with 30 hours worth of traveling to reach Mumbai. Having flown very little in the past this was a very new experience that went extremely well. Between short conversations with my fellow passengers and navigating my way to the international airport that is a part of LAX it was a very enjoyable, and taxing trip.
Immediately after arriving in Mumbai I had my first challenge: managing the baggage carousel. This wouldn't have been that big of a deal if I wasn't 5 feet tall, standing behind a wall of people, and wearing a sweatshirt (which made me feel as if I was pouring sweat). But all these things were true. So I did my best to weave my way to the front of the human wall only to be pushed out of the way a couple minutes later. After about 20 minutes of this I started to consider how awful it was going to be when my suitcase never comes. Luckily, it came about 8 minutes later and it was a good thing it was large and purple otherwise I may have never spotted it. At this point all pretenses of being polite had to go because I had only a couple seconds to push my way in and somehow pick up this large suitcase that was effectively moving away from me.
Suitcase in tow I made it through all of the usual passport/ visa checking and out the door. As soon as I left the airport and entered outside Mumbai I was completely blinded. One minute there were people everywhere and the next all I saw was fog. It was so hot and humid that it caused my glasses to fog up and I instantly began to sweat in my excessive amount of clothes. I quickly found the man picking me up at and we were ready for my first experience as a passenger in a car driven on the roads of India. For anyone who has talked to me in the weeks before I left you know I was pretty much having nightmares about this.
To my great relief the driving was more of a frightening thrill than anything else. It was kind of like a rollercoaster, only instead of making you feel like you were going to fall into the water or go upside down there is a large vehicle coming straight toward you. But don't worry the driver honks to let the car directly in front of it know that it is there, just in case they don't see you. Oh, and even better than what feels like playing chicken with every car on the road is when you are driving straight toward pedestrians, practically stopping on their toes, giving a courtesy honk a few minutes before.
Which brings me to the other fear I had before coming here. Crossing the street. It is essentially like frogger on steroids. There are cars coming from both directions regardless of what side of the street you are on. Lanes are merely a suggestion that is never followed so it is important to be looking both ways at all times and when you see an opening don't hesitate. If for some reason you get stuck in the middle of the road it is ok because it is perfectly normal to just walk with the flow of traffic until you find your next opening.
After having these experiences I am relieved that my biggest fear about coming here was the roadways and not bugs or language barriers. Because I have slowly been getting a bit more comfortable with roads and traffic while my fellow interns are struggling with the joys of lizards and cockroaches as roommates. Not that I don't have these things as well, they just don't bother me and are something that I was expecting. After getting a room with a shower and an AC I would feel way too spoiled if I came to India and didn't have a few bugs to keep me company.