After fifty hours of traveling and twelve hours of sleep over the past few days, I am sitting again in the Indira Gandhi International Airport waiting for my next flight to Madurai.
I love India already. This is the first time in my life where I’ve been able to introduce myself and not have to say my name twice. It’s the first time where it made sense for me to give my name for a reservation because it was an ‘easy one.’ And, I just bought my first Starbucks coffee where I didn’t have to tell the barista how to spell my name.
My name is Anjali Mahajan, and I was born and raised in Jackson, Tennessee. I’m a rising sophomore in the College on the pre-med track, majoring in Political Science with a concentration in International Relations and minoring in International Development and French.
When I first accepted this internship, I knew it would be hot in India, but it’s, like, really hot here. With 112ºF + weather, the 6 am wake-ups to beat the heat have become ideal, and a lot more of my time has been spent inside than I thought. The rains of this season have yet to come, and I can’t be outside longer than 4 minutes without breaking a sweat. On the bright side, the fan my mom gave me is coming in very handy, and my sunglasses have been covering my eye-bags all day.
I’ve been in Delhi for approximately 40 hours, but with the amount of spilled coffees, lost Ubers, and forgotten malaria pills, it already feels as though I’ve been here for a year. I’ve been sightseeing, or, at least the other interns went sightseeing while I slept three hours past my alarm. I’ve been shopping, trying (and failing) to bargain for prices in Chandni Chawk. Most importantly, though, I’ve finally been in the same city and time zone as my grandparents.
The day I arrived was my great-uncle’s birthday. While I was the youngest person there by about 40 years, seeing my extended family for the first time in years was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I learned so much about the amazing things my grandparents and their siblings have done, I saw the closeness of my family, and I even found out one of my cousins graduated from Penn in ’98. Being around so many members of my family (pictured below) was inspiring, and I don’t think the smile left my face for the entire 3 hours we were at lunch.
Even though my ‘vacation’ will soon be ending, I’m so excited to go to Madurai, and it’s not just because it will be a nice, cool 95ºF. The people we’ll meet, from the doctors who created Aravind to the patients we’ll work with, are the ones who will make my experience the most memorable. I’ve never been to South India, and I can’t wait to see what adventures the next 9 weeks have in store!