Before my trip to Uganda I felt that I was going to have my second cultural shock, the first one was in India. I was so excited when I took the plane that took me to the land of the Taj Mahal , I knew it would be different but what I saw when I left the airport was more than different. I felt I was in Zombieland.
We came to India in the early morning (3am), when we were in the van from the airport to the hostel my first impressions during that journey was chaos. The way they drive in India is completely insane! and impressive if you think about it; we were going fast and we passed the cars, we got from one to another and I tried to see what was behind the moving windows. The van began to slow down in the street where the hostel was. Because it was late, EVERYTHING was closed and the view was not all that as something you want to see during your first few hours in a new country . Piles of garbage in the middle of the street, dust, and cows walking around and eating the waste. There was fog, which made the scenario to look even more apocalyptic… I felt I was in a set of a movie and suddenly a zombie was going to appear at the window. The van stopped a few steps and we saw a hotel that did not look bad and I relaxed a little. We took our bags and headed there, then the driver told us that was not our hostel. We noted a dark alley and my eyes went opened more than usual. We walked there were leaks everywhere, you could here the water going down and at the bottom at our hostel a sign read “Sweet Dreams”. “Sweet dreams my ass” I thought.
We arrived and a ball of prejudices jumped out at me, I thought those men who treated us that night were going to steal us (It was a bad behavior and I regret having thought so)… We were taken to a large room, and got a lock. That was how we were going to close the door. The room had four beds and two bathrooms, one of them did not work and the other was full of mold on the walls. The sheets were soiled and stained. That night I slept all covered, I put on socks, my jacket , the cap of my jacket and put on a skirt as a sheet. It was really dirty. My cousin brought a patchwork teddy bears that I spent making fun of him for having it brought. It turned out that in India that bears quilt was a required item and a thing I dreamed to have. Anyway… the next day we got up and showered, trying not to touch the moldy wall. The water was icy, (That was our fault because we did not realize, until the end, there was a button for hot water). We left our luggage in the hold and prepared to see Delhi (that night we were going to take a bus to northern India, we were going to go back to Delhi at the end of the trip). We went out to the alley and it was pure movement, but it was still scary. Again, my mind and prejudices.
My sister invited us Chai that was sold on the street. After taking it we realized that right next to the man who sold it there was a public restroom (Public restroom for men are outdoors stone urinals) and before he sold us the chai he was using it. Then a child started to talk to us in english, so I was like “Oh, no no english” and overhear us talking in spanish so he started talking us and asking us questions in spanish, that only scared us more. Most of them were just trying to convince us to go somewhere and buy something. Then as we continued walking another man approached us and he began to follow us. My cousins and I were scared. My sister was living in India for four months so she knew how everything worked there al ready and did not take importance to the men. She just told us to avoid him. So within 24 hours of being there our impression was not good and every thing that came out of the blue only surprised us and frightened us more… but it was just the culture shock. At the end you’ll adapt to it and you blend (sort of blend).
That same day, at night , we returned to the hostel for our luggage and India started to talk to me more gently. A man with a beautiful girl told me if I could take a picture. He wanted me to take my picture with her daughter. The girl was afraid of me.
I think that was when I began to relax more and appreciate the place where I stood .