Every time I tell someone I’m going to be spending 10 weeks in India over the summer, it is usually followed by “what are you going to be doing for 10 weeks?!” and “what are you most excited for?” After giving these questions much thought, I’ve decided to be like every other basic traveller and make a bucket list of 10 things I want to do before leaving India.
- Visit the Taj Mahal–Yes, this is extremely cliché, but it seems like a must for every tourist. I mean, how can you face all your friends and family back home when they ask to see pictures of you in front of this famous world heritage site and you say you never went?
Check out Steph’s blog post about our ~disastrous~ trip to Agra!
2. Try a sizzling brownie–Ever since my Indian friend in french class talked about this mouth watering dessert, I’ve been dying to try it, but apparently it’s only found in cafes and restaurants in Mumbai. It’s a brownie with ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzled on top, but it’s served on a sizzling hot plate so the brownie is warm and melts in your mouth. Sounds like heaven to me. My only question is, why haven’t they brought it to America yet??
11/10 would recommend and someone should definitely start this business venture in America!
3. Bargain prices at a bazaar/market–Having lived in China for seven years, haggling and bargaining is like second nature to me. I live for marketplaces and bazaars filled with colorful fabrics, street food, and cultural trinkets. While my bargaining skills probably won’t come in handy due to the language barriers, I’m just as excited to explore the unique goods in India and hopefully not get too ripped-off.
4. See a Bollywood movie–Before this trip, I decided I had to watch a few Bollywood movies to get a taste of Bollywood culture. My friend recommended Three Idiots and I loved it so much I had to watch more. It was the perfect blend of hardship, cheesy romance, friendship, family expectations, and of course, Bollywood singing and dancing. 10/10 would recommend and it’s definitely on my list of favorite movies. I also watched Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which translates roughly into YOLO. It’s not classic Bollywood because it’s set in Spain, but still incorporates all of the Bollywood classics. So, I’ve decided that I must see a Bollywood movie in a theater in India to get the full movie-going experience (apparently movies are so long there’s an intermission???)
We also saw a Telugu spy movie called Goodachari with no English subtitles and it was definitely an experience trying to figure out what was happening.
5. Try a Bollywood dance class–Along with watching a Bollywood movie, I figure I might as well attempt at Bollywood dancing if I can find a local dance studio and just try a class. I’m thinking this will be a good way to explore Indian culture while keeping fit because I’ll definitely need some exercise after stuffing myself full of all the delicious street food.
This was probably the most fun workout I’ve done (message me for Steph’s dance video!)
6. Ride in a rickshaw–This one probably doesn’t even need to be on the list because rickshaws are so commonplace in India that it’s BOUND to happen, right?
7. Interview a local–Over the summer I plan to write a feature article for Penn Political Review about India’s tax system and its loophole, so I want to meet locals and listen to their stories.
8. Learn how to make an Indian dish–This one my friend from home suggested as we were attempting to make dumplings from scratch together (and somewhat succeeded?). What better way to get to a know a place than through its food? Since I’m living off campus next year I promised myself I would learn to cook over the summer, so why not start with some Indian dishes and impress all of my housemates!
So I did learn to make a dish at one of my coworker’s apartment one afternoon. But it turns out I learned how to make a Tibetan dish called momos (which are very similar to dumplings) so it’s a little debatable if I actually did check this one off. Regardless the momos were decent and the chutney was AMAZING.
9. Learn some Kannada phrases and use them–and maybe some Hindi too? So far all I know is Kannada Gotilla, which means I don’t understand Kannada, and baida, which our boss Chitra told us means “don’t need it” and is especially useful if you say “sugar baida” to mean less sugar.
10. And of course, travel–Last year’s Shahi group was able to travel every weekend for 10 weeks, so I’m going to be just as ambitious and try to hit as many destinations as possible. Cities/states on the list so far (that I haven’t managed to narrow down): New Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Bangalore, Kerala, Hampi, Goa, Mumbai, Rajasthan, Hyderabad, Pondicherry, and Chennai.
So in total we visited 10 cities (if you count the short stop we made in Srirangapatna which is a small town): New Delhi, Agra, Bangalore, Mysore, Hampi, Pondicherry, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Srirangapatna, and Coorg. I have to say that out of all of the cities we visited, Mumbai was the one I was looking forward to most, and it was my favorite. From the beaches to the street food to the nice restaurants, there’s everything you could ask for!
I’m sure many of these will be checked off over the course of the next few weeks, and some will probably change too and new ones will be added. I’m excited to see where these ten weeks take me and the adventures I’ll be going on.