It’s hard to believe that I have been in India for almost three months now! So, after two months of being in school, it was about time I had a nice adventure.
Fortunately, the Hindu holiday of Navaratri was coming up and the majority of India celebrates it for 9 nights (10 days) and on the last day comes Dusshera (Dasara). As a little overview, the celebration commemorates the victory of the god Rama over the demon king Ravana, symbolizing the victory of good over evil, and truth over lies. I absolutely love India for the stories of all their gods and goddesses, and as a foreigner it’s quite a complicated and long story, but the lesson behind it is still universally understood. My roommate and I decided to spend Dusshera in Mysore, a city in the state above ours in Karnataka. It especially famous for having the most extravagant festival, where the entire city comes alive with thousands of flowers, lights, stalls, music, drawing people from everywhere.
We decided to spend our time wisely, so we took a flight to Bengaluru, which is India’s own little Silicon Valley, to have a taste of Western Life in India. We were there for only 18 hours, so we did our shopping in Commercial Street, known for all the tiny goodies sold in stalls. I was able to buy a nice silk saree and shoes (even though I lost the three pairs I boughtL ). Then we headed to the first brewery opened in India called Arbor, which had their own special beer with an Indian flare. To finish the night, we went to club called “Loveshack” (lol I know) to dance and unknowingly have karaoke night. We were the only foreigners there, but it was honestly the best time I’ve ever had in a club with music from everywhere. They play a lot of Spanish music in India and a lot of old-school 2000’s bops, which I was totally down for.
Afterwards, we took a very crowded train ride to Mysore and met up with a friend of ours and watched the city light up at 6:30. Imagine Christmas lights but this time it’s a city dressed in dozens of colors. It was a beautiful spectacle for the city to come alive in a matter of a second. We went to Mysore Palace which is where the royal family of Mysore reside and then went to the festival market where we rode a Ferris wheel!
The next day, we went walked around until a nice man named Samir came up to us and took us to a local market and sold us some sandalwood oil. We ended up waiting on the streets with the entire city for the parade procession to start, but we had to wait three hours in the sun… on the floor… it was not fun, but again waiting is always worth it in the end. The parade lasted over 90 minutes with nonstop sound and color, and even had painted elephants roaming the street! I was lucky enough to be in India during some of its major festivals, but this one was really special to see. We stayed at an actual palace too! It’s called the Green Hotel, which was originally built to house Mysore’s princesses, but they’ve turned it into a beautiful, environmentally friendly hotel adorned with hundreds of flowers from their garden. We also got to experience the Devaraja Market, known as photographer’s paradise, and saw the process of creating real silk sarees.
Up next, we went to Wayanad, a mountainous region in Kerala, and saw wild monkeys, deer, peacocks, and elephants! It’s one of the most beautiful regions I have visited in India so far, but we were there only for a short time so we were able just to have a taste of the place. Our trip was coming to an end so we took the bus back to Kozhikode to take a bus home, but that was the craziest bus ride I have ever had. Since Wayanad is in the mountain, the bus had to go down the mountain with like 30 U turns, and he never braked once. It was really funny how casual he would turn as if he wasn’t going to run us off the mountain. Also, there’s a thing with bus drivers being the kings of cutting people off, even motorcycles. So, we survived our ride and unknowingly ended up on the beach and watched the sunset with a round of coconut juice.
This short, but very meaningful time traveling showed me the unexpected always has a way of giving you a good experience. I struggled hard, first losing my phone (someone returned it to me) and shoes, but I was able to meet some of the coolest people who I will never forget. The experience is everything and the stories people tell you about traveling are worth more than anything in the world. The love and happiness they share with you in such a short time was overfilling that I never went anywhere without a smile.
So, lesson of the day, TRAVEL.
Take some risks and just take the first step because it will lead you to the best experiences. In the end, I was able to reflect the meaning of Navaratri after all. Good over evil, truth over lies, it’s really important to put importance on such a simple perspective. If I would have been afraid from experiencing the places I have now been to and stopped myself from making new friends, my perspective would have remained skewed as it previously was. The media often times makes you scared, especially with India, but my God have I learned more about love, friendships, spirituality, and especially learning about myself that I could have back home. The truth is, beautiful experiences and friendships come from the willingness to go out there and make them. Now I’m back at the lab doing my project, but I am already planning my next trip lol.
Next adventure, a South Indian Wedding!