Last week we made a final trip to Delhi. We have consistently gone to Delhi every six months and it’s amazing how my views of the city have changed with each visit. When we first landed in Delhi (our first stop in India) it was overwhelming. If I didn’t know what culture shock was beforehand, I quickly learned. Over the next 6 months, I remembered Delhi as an overwhelming place in terms of people and filth. After spending 6 months in small town India and Sri Lanka, Delhi was shockingly clean on our second trip. Each trip we make, I am more confused by my initial reaction, and more delighted by now clean and orderly the city is, with luxuries that are out of this world. It’s incredibly how a fancy bathroom can make you forget that the water is still filthy. Thankfully, I’ve always remembered in time. It should be noted that Evan gets a sinus infection every time we go to Delhi, and it is called “Delhi Belly” for a reason, but I still hold that it is one of the cleaner cities of India!
(flying into Delhi)
This final trip to Delhi happened to fall on Evan’s birthday. I’ll be the first to admit that I have failed horribly to make special occasions special on this side of the world. I never quite got a handle on celebrating when everything cultural was taken away. For this birthday, I had a little help from an old friend I like to call Starbucks.
(our local barista wanted a picture with us which we were more than happy to oblige. The beautiful cups behind us cost $15 – a fortune by my Indian standards – and so, in the name of already having too much baggage for the trip home, stayed on the shelf)
Starbucks arrived in India about a year ago and made its way to Delhi at the beginning of the year. It was supposed to be a surprise for Evan, but on our way to Nepal in April we stumbled upon a Starbucks in the airport and the surprise was ruined. We were nevertheless excited to find Starbucks’ all over the city, and had no shame in going every day. I tried the “new” (at least it’s new to me!) green tea frapp, and though I was in love with the color, I was seriously disappointed with the taste. It could be possible that it was just a bad frapp, but I have my doubts. Everything else was incredible, and was a great birthday celebration as well as one more way to begin easing back into American culture.
We’ve been told that “reserve culture shock” can be more difficult than “culture shock” because you aren’t expecting it. We are, perhaps foolishly, trying to be realistic about everything, hoping that we can avoid the brunt of reserve culture shock. The months ahead will tell. I’ll always be thankful for the breaks we were able to take in Delhi, and the little luxuries she always offered up; black beans, cheese, and now Starbucks. For having such a rough beginning, we certainly ended on a good note!