Until Next Time, India

By Aislinn McMillan

India really gave me an appreciation of perspective. It was monsoon season when I was there, and thus it was always pouring rain or overcast and about to be pouring rain. Streets would be muddy and commutes would be wet. My American umbrella was not fit to deal with the rains and broke very early on. The kitchen ceiling in the flat I was subletting began to fall due to water damage. It would have been easy to have gotten bogged down in the gloomy weather and the extra challenges that come with living in the season. However, there are many reasons why people are happy when the season hits. Monsoon season leads to the heat breaking, to crops growing and fueling the economy, and to beautiful, lush green landscapes with gushing waterfalls. The lack of predictability of the weather also adds an element of excitement, and once you just accept that you will be soaked it is much more enjoyable.

Monsoon season treks:

It is all about framing the situation. For instance, between all the rickshaws and vehicles, the honking is incessant in the streets of Mumbai. In the US, I always associate honking with aggression and stress provoking situations. I often wished to escape the honking. One of my coworkers, though, explained to me that many of the honks are friendly—a car simply letting another know that “hey I’m here,” to help avoid potential accidents. Once I began equating honking more to friendly nudges, it seemed much less bothersome.

Another situation to reframe is birds pooping on you. During my time in India, I got pooped on by more birds than I had in my life. Sometimes when it wasn’t raining, I would still use my umbrella to shield from the birds. Apparently, though, a bird pooping on you is good luck. Can’t say I ever really got behind that train of thought, but it’s a nicer way to meet that fate.

Living abroad wasn’t always glamorous. I found India to full of challenges, excitement, and extremes, and I found myself enjoying my time much more when I would embrace them to the best of my ability. After finishing work, I went up to the Himalayas and roadtripped with a friend through Spiti Valley. On this trip, I saw some of the most vast, harsh, and sublime landscapes I’d ever seen. I also experienced peak travel struggles—from landslides to buses breaking down to hitchhiking to a snow storm in August (note when you’re traveling in India build in buffer time!!). The culmination of these contradictions and adventures in the Himalayas, as well as my time in India in general, made for an unforgettable trip that I am so grateful for.

Photos from the Himalayas:

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