On Friday of week 7, as I was heading in a rickshaw from UTC to Chinita, a delicious Mexican restaurant, I had a sudden shock. I was looking around at the roads, the people, the traffic, and the buildings and for a few seconds, it felt like I was experiencing it for the first time all over again. I’m not sure what prompted this because I didn’t recognize anything new. The traffic was the same constant flow, with drivers weaving in and around the classic congested mass of vehicles. But in that moment, the traffic was once again a turbulent stream, threatening to sweep everything in its path. The slight fear that comes with a car approaching way too close had returned.
Where did this feeling go?
It felt like I had just gotten a new prescription for my glasses. My vision wasn’t blurring everything together anymore, but instead able to focus on the details. By this point, we had lived here in Bangalore for 7 weeks. But this moment opened my eyes to how I’ve changed and adjusted since we arrived in early January.
Recently, I grabbed dinner with a couple SJC students, and they were shocked that I was able to confidently cross the street without a thought. They were amazed with how quickly I had adjusted to life here. It feels like Bangalore isn’t the same exotic city full of new experiences to me that it used to be, but it isn’t the city that changed; it is me. I had become desensitized to the hustle and bustle of the city, people’s mannerisms, and some of India’s culture. I suppose without even realizing, I stopped seeing and life became a habit as life tends to do.
Two nights ago, on the roof, I had a conversation with Julie about our goals for the remaining two and a half weeks. I pondered what I wanted to get out of the time I have left and how I can make the most out of it. This reminded me of that experience in the rickshaw.
I don’t see Bangalore with the same fresh, exciting lenses as I used to and am afraid that I am slowing down on learning here. The beginning of this program was a whirlwind of information in the form of sights and sounds but then suddenly, without warning, it all became the norm. It is amazing that I have adjusted well enough to function here, but the cost was that I was no longer as observant. However, the beautiful, unexpected, moment of feeling like I was re-experiencing Bangalore for the first time gives me some hope.
Even though project deadlines and constant pivoting keeps my brain busy at all times, I can take a step back and evaluate what I’ve gained and lost from my time here. I still have time to learn so maybe I will be able to pull myself out of being desensitized in my remaining two and a half weeks. That is the goal anyway, and my personal focus for the short time that I have left here.