Since this trip I've been back to India several times and to many other countries, but this initial experience diving into living on the opposite side of the world with such wide-eyed innocence will always hold a special place in my heart.
My favorite entries in this blog map to three experiences that remain some of the most interesting of my life:
1) Wearing a burkha to the souk at Charminar, escorted by my Muslim friends from the Google office, Parveen and Nazia, who wanted me to "experience real India."
2) Traveling to Chennai with my friend, Ramya, and staying with her family in their home. I slept without air-conditioning when it was 100 degrees with 100% humidity, rode side-saddle on a moped in a saree to the Hindu temple, and went to a real Brahmin fortune-teller.
These three experiences were my strongest glimpses into real India. A world away from tourist activities, these experiences were about normal people going out of their way to cross cultures and build deep, empathetic understanding with someone from across the world. I had the unusual privilege to experience the culture as only a local can, and as only a woman can, thanks to the kind openness and curiosity of others.
These experiences set a standard for my travel expectations that continue to drive me to go beyond the obvious and to appreciate the vivid color that cultural similarities and differences provide to this world.
This trip is now history, but my adventures continue!
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