Observations
  • I wondered if anyone else is affected by the flies, and then I saw a man walking along with several resting on his face.
  • The Indian head wobble nod is a complex communication tool that requires context, or something I still don’t understand. All I know is that I picked it up, which probably looks really funny on a white girl.
  • If there’s a popular hotel or store, other places will pop up with a similar name or appearance. Sometimes so similar, I wonder if they even care about pretending it is unique.
  • Ketchup is not ketchup here. It’s really “Continental Sauce,” more like sweet and sour with a tomato base.
  • If you touch someone accidentally with your feet, you need to tap them and then bring your hand to your head as an apology. The first time this happened I was very confused about what someone was trying to communicate to me. It wasn’t invented sign language…
  • The tourist quota ticket office at major train stations concentrates people from all over the world into a small space, which is startling when you are used to being the only foreigner around.
  • Hindu shrines are bright, with plastic decorations, marigolds piled on and around brightly painted deities, and flashing lights strung over and around. Taxi drivers have small statues of deities stuck onto their dashboard, sometimes glowing with multicolored moving lights.

  • Prices depend on your appearance
  • Monkeys will attack if you look at them for too long. Or just because you’re breathing.
  • Locals are born with a skill to stay upright on the buses that weave through the mountains. I can barely keep my seat.
  • Bindis (the forehead dots) can be decorative or have a particular meaning: marriage, religion, status…


  • The difference between chapatis and rotis (Indian breads) is still not clear to me after three weeks in India. *Still not clear at six weeks
  • In the market, vegetables are weighed with an old-school scale: produce on one side, metal blocks on the other.
  • When a Tibetan woman carries a child piggy-back style, she clasps her hands, forming a sort of seat. Americans hold the child’s legs behind the knees.
  • Books are more expensive than hotel rooms.
  • Both Buddhist nuns and monks shave their heads.
  • Despite the monsoon, it is impossible to find waterproof shoes in McLeodganj. And it is easier to find a singing bowl than a cooking pot.
  • I am fairly confident that cows can climb stairs.
  • When driving a car in India, one must honk every three seconds to urge any and all pedestrians off the road, even if there is only one and you have two lanes.
  • Monkeys are evil. Don’t smile or even look at them.
  • Although a modern country, pieces of India are definitely a bit behind technologically. Construction: bamboo poles propping up ceilings, women carrying dirt in bowls on their heads, everything done by hand.
  • It’s true, Buddhist monks have cell phones and computers.
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