Preparing for Pune: Burgers, Bollywood, and Bargains


My flight to Pune, India is fourteen days away and it still doesn't seem real. I don't think it will really hit me until I finally land in Mumbai after about twenty-five long hours of travel and a dozen or so anxiety dreams. But even in this surreal reality, I still have to pack my bags and get ready to go. Preparing for this trip has been and continues to be a little like blindly pinning the tail on the donkey. In terms of packing, for example, I could end up being super prepared, the tail stuck right on the butt, or way off, tail on the nose. But regardless of how materially equipped I will be, I'm trying to prepare myself to be unprepared mentally and to go to India without any expectations and with an open mind. And so, my preparation so far has included a lot of food, movies, and second-hand stores.

When I first got home from school for winter break, my mom surprised me with about five different frozen Indian meals. They were pretty tasty, but all I could think about was getting my fill of New Mexican style juicy green chile bacon cheeseburgers, mouthwatering cheesy enchiladas, and endless bowls of sugary Cinnamon Toast Crunch before I spend an entire semester eating Indian food--which I know will be infinitely times better than the frozen options from Trader Joe's. Still, it's the thought that counts, Mom ;)

My family and I have been watching a bunch of Bollywood films which I'm really starting to get into. I recommend watching Water, Lagaan, Queen, and 3 Idiots. While media of course isn't a truly reliable source for trying to fully understand a culture, these are still incredibly worthwhile films that have been making me even more enthused for my semester abroad. As I've been binge watching Bollywood movies and stuffing my face with "American" food, I've also made the great realization that I do, in fact, have to pack my bags eventually.

Reading past Alliance bloggers' posts on packing and preparation have been extremely helpful, yet there still remains some apprehension in my mind. I went to a second hand store and stocked up on light weight cotton t-shirts (only $3 each, talk about an awesome deal) that I'm hoping to wear with salwar pants that I can buy when I get to Pune. I'm thinking I'll bring a few pairs of leggings to wear with kurtas and maybe one pair of jeans, a swimsuit, a toothbrush, lots and lots of tampons, and call it quits. All I know is that I'll need a lot of room in my suitcase to pack all the clothes and gifts I buy in India for my trip back.

Another matter I've been trying to figure out is what shoes to bring. I know that 1) it's going to be HOT, 2) I'll have to remove my shoes before going inside most homes and sacred places, and 3) I need me something comfy. I'm planning on investing in some colorful Chacos but finding sandals in the dead of winter has been a bit of a struggle. I did manage to find some at an REI but, alas, none in my size. Solution? Pull a reverse Cinderalla and buy a few sizes online, see which fits, and send the rejects back! I'm doing my best to prepare materially and mentally, but in the end, all I can really say, as Drake would, is yolo. I'm comin' for ya, India!

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