The Bookmark

|Author: Eric|

I have been asking my fellow classmates about what their first meal will be once they get back to the U.S. I received various answers, from juicy burgers to a chicken raspberry vinaigrette salad. I know what Kevin and I are going to run to the moment we step foot on the UW campus: shawarma. A beautiful combination of lamb, beef, and Mediterranean spices, the shawarma at Aladdin’s is superior to all other foods, at least in our minds right now.

It’s fun to think about the first things we are going to do when we get back, as if we miss our daily lives and routines back at home. I mean, of course we miss it because it is home, which is precisely why I am going to miss Bangalore once I leave it. In 9 short weeks, Bangalore has become my home. Oh, how I am going to miss the bustling markets, the cows roaming freely on the street, the people, the culture, and the food. Although maybe I can take the break from UTC food. I never knew that I could get so attached to a place in such a short time.

Final blog post. I thought I would be relieved when the blog posts were finally concluded. So why, now, do I feel like there is still much more left to say? During each of my previous blogs, I was safe knowing that there were more opportunities to share my experiences and express my thoughts. But now here we are. One last chance to spill my remaining thoughts.

Nine weeks have passed and what have I accomplished? I learned the basics of Indian culture, made lasting friendships with SJC students, made many connections through our work with Biome. My team managed to provide Biome with something that they can actually use, and we are in the final stages of completing our agonizing GCIL project of providing education services to NGOs. I guess that’s quite a handful. But of these accomplishments, how much will last? Once I go back to the U.S. and look back on my experience years later, what will remain?

Of all things, the connections will for sure remain, as one of my main focuses was to make friends with local students. The St. Joseph’s College students were so welcoming. From going to Tuesday chicken wing happy hours to playing football, I managed to make lasting friendships with the commerce students. Through the literature students, I was introduced to lots of late-night adventures including going to a neighborhood that was lively even at 2 AM and sitting down for a steaming cup of chai. Gingo, a literature student, even made me try a street beef roll. Other SJC students told me that I shouldn’t eat it because it may make me sick, but I couldn’t pass off a chance to have an authentic experience. And you know what? It was absolutely delicious. I don’t know if it was the food or just placebo, but my stomach was churning for the rest of the night. Relax, no serious diarrhea though.

This same day, Natasha gave me a hand painted, colorful bookmark that she bought for me at the art fair at SJC and wrote me a little letter on the back of it. I had no place to store this bookmark but kept it safe all throughout the day until I got home at night. Once I get home, it will get the same care as that day, carefully placed, and in a place where I can see it every day. This bookmark is the best gift I could have possibly received during my time here; the colors were picked to represent the many colors of India.

I never imagined I could make such connections with people so quickly. Previously, I thought to myself: I want to see as much as I can on this side of the world because who knows when I’ll come back here. But now I’m not worried because I have more reasons to come back. I now know that I will be back, and have places to stay. And if any of them choose to come visit Seattle, they know they have a place as well.

So, this blog post goes out to all my SJC friends. Thank you for making this experience so much more meaningful and special. A couple of you have already said that you would visit me in Seattle. I truly hope that this happens soon. There is so much I want to show you, as you have shown me in Bangalore. Stay in touch. I will see you all soon.

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