dimanche 19 avril 2015

Izzy Goes To India (And Other Stupid Tales)

The big day was here! I was finally going to India. I have been interested in Indian culture my entire life. The earliest memory I have of it is probably reading about it in A Little Princess when I was a kid, but who knows for sure? My interest has never really wavered, despite not knowing any Indians until I was like, 17 years old. Aesthetically, India was (and is) my jam. Those of y'all who live in Southern California know about Channel 18. Well on Saturdays there was this program called Showbiz India TV that featured interviews with Bollywood stars and clips from the newest movies. I was so obsessed! I looked forward to it every week and would be crushed if I missed it. This was pre-DVR days, so you assholes are spoiled rotten. Sometimes, my antenna would act up and it would be all static and weird. USELESS. Anyway, I loved it and had favorite songs and everything. I was so serious about it. 

For some reason, I had never really thought of going to India. Like, I was ready to buy my ticket for a ride on Virgin Galactic, but India just seemed so...far away? I seriously considered going to fucking SPACE before India. Don't listen to me. I eventually made some plans to go with a friend a few years ago, but she chickened out and that was the end of that. Even then,  I don't think I really believed I would actually go through with it. One day, I saw a special or something about Oprah's visit. She said that India was sensory overload and that it was the only place she had ever felt like she was really "somewhere else". I thought that was a pretty interesting statement especially coming from someone who has probably been everywhere in the world. India is pretty polarizing. Either you love it or hate it. The problem is, I didn't know too many people who had ever been there. The trip reports I read online were also split, except for one thing-- they all agreed that India was a beast. I love a good challenge, so you would think that would rekindle my desire, but nope. I'm an egghead for sure.

The year was 2014 and at 27 dumb years old, I finally decided to go for it. I had made tentative plans to go to Europe with a friend at the end of the year, but then they got cancelled. This was my chance. Why would I miss out on something I had always wanted to do? It was one of those moments that make you realize how people (willingly) allow their lives to be awful. I took a step back and came to the conclusion that I was in the perfect place to do it. I had time, money, and absolutely zero responsibilities to tie me down. If you wanna be cheesy about it, you could say this was my Return of Saturn moment... but keep it to yourself. I remember the exact moment I pulled the trigger, too. I had priced flights and stuff earlier during the day at work (such a hard worker!) and it was looking pretty good for your girl. I was literally on my way home, on the Firestone and Garfield intersection, when I decided to do it. I got home, pulled out my card, and booked it. I'm not sure what I expected to happen, but it finally sunk in when I saw my bank account take a dip. It is such a trip that you can buy a ticket to anywhere in the entire world just cause you feel like it. INSANITY. Being an adult is fucking awesome, for real. You have to understand that I am a nobody from the ghetto that happens to have a passport. Really, that's all it is. Some people vacationed abroad during the summer or went on trips all the time and thus garnered wanderlust (gag) via their parents, but I was just a regular poor person. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be able to afford it, let alone actually go... yet here I was. This was an incredibly huge deal for me. 

Because I had booked it about 10 months ahead, life kinda got in the way and I forgot. It actually didn't hit me until about 2 weeks before I was set to depart. I called to schedule an appointment with my doctor to get a malaria shot and the lady was like "Uhh, I don't think we have that vaccine here." WHAT?! Even when chatting with my doctor about it, it hadn't sunken in yet. When the girl at the pharmacy asked me why I needed malaria pills, she looked at me like I was nuts. When she found out I was going alone, I swear she looked at me like a spaceship had just landed in front of her. See, it wasn't just me that felt like India was on a whole 'nother level. Shit got real. I WAS GOING TO INDIA! What was going to happen? I mean, I wasn't going to Mumbai and India is a big ass country--but what if I ran into King Khan?! Like, what if he was so enchanted that he demanded me to co-star in his next Bollywood film? How could I deny him? Would it be weird if I told him that I loved him in Billu and that "Marjani, Marjani" was STILL on heavy rotation in the playlist of my life? You would think I had never left America the way I was carrying on. India just isn't like France or any other one of those popular countries. There wasn't the wealth of info there usually is all over these internet streets. I had no idea what was in store for me. 

I am out here writing a novel, but I have a lot to say. The notoriously awful visa process was a breeze, so now the only thing that stood in my way was... the food? It is laughable now cause I fucking loved it, but I was so scared about what I would be able to eat. I had never tried Indian food, unbelievable. I had Korean BBQ in Seoul and gelato in Milan for the first time, so this was about to be a trend. Blasting my favorite Bhangra bangers in the weeks leading up to the trip, the anticipation was off the charts. Finally, the day had arrived.

I was in Paris, duh. I was so excited that I could barely sleep. While packing the night before, I thought about tossing a change of clothes into my carry on like always. Of course, I didn't. You know exactly where this is going. I had just taken a long ass walk clean across the entire damn city the day before, so the next morning my legs were incredibly sore. I figured I could buy some ibuprofen or whatever at the chemist, but that was not to be. I was forced to walk around looking like fucking Frankenstein. Ugh. On the way to the airport, the driver asked me where I was headed. I told him I was going to India and his eyes widened. I was ready to hear the usual "WHAT?!" but the opposite happened. He said he had visited the year before and was completely in love with it. This was the first positive account about a trip from a real life human, so I was happy about it. He said he was incredibly jealous because India was so beautiful and he wished he was able to go back. He told me to enjoy myself and said his goodbyes. I was too busy being a chatterbox to realize I had given him the wrong terminal number. I had to walk across this giant airport to the correct one with my stiff ass legs! Every hellish step made me feel like just cutting my feet off. I looked so dumb. How embarrassing. 

N'importe quoi, I was going to India! Can we stop for a second to talk about this? Talk about a dream itinerary. I was flying from Paris to New Delhi! This was actually my life! I felt like Izzy Crewe. 

I got on the plane (Window Master Race) and my neighbor seemed nice enough. She plopped down in the seat next to me wearing a puffy ass coat. I thought she would take it off before having a seat, but nope. It kinda felt like when you hop into a tub full of water and the water levels rise... except it was her coat spilling up and over. Uh, ok. Comical as it was, it wasn't really an issue. She was an older Indian lady traveling with her adult son, who for whatever reason wasn't sitting near her. I realized she didn't speak any English but that wasn't too much of a problem. As a child of immigrants, I have seen firsthand how hard learning another language can be. In my travels, I have seen how rude people can be when it comes to language barriers, too, so I have a bit more empathy than most. This was an 8 hour flight and I was so busy watching Arrow that I didn't notice I had already drank an entire litre of water. Fuck! I hate bothering people on airplanes. I asked the lady to move but she just stared at me. After a little bit of back and forth with some hand signals, she understood what I meant... except she still sat there. Okay, no big. I can cross over her. I mean, she will have my ass in her face, but whatever. I didn't realize the douche in the seat in front of her was reclined to the max, so this was going to be a challenge. Doing my best bullet-dodging Matrix impression, I squeezed past. She got a face full of buns, but didn't say anything. I figured she would get up when I came back, but she just signaled for me to cross over her. Are you kidding?! My legs were on fire and this lady wanted me to continue doing the limbo rock. How long did we have left? I didn't wanna repeat this performance. 

 After sitting in my seat, I turned on the IFE system and was pleasantly surprised to see Rammstein's Made in Germany album. I played this fucking album over and over for the next few hours, simultaneously daydreaming about how criminally fine Richard Kruspe is and doing my best mental Till Hammer to distract myself from having to use the restroom again. Till's flawless voice enveloped me and lulled me to sleep. Ich liebe Till, for real. I was ready to use the restroom again, but when I woke up we were already descending so I couldn't get up. Finally, we arrived in New Delhi! 

all the mudras in the world couldn't save me.

I was so ready to get off the airplane. Little did I know, the worst was yet to come... 

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