Yoga students gather besides the Ganges River

My Year in India: It’s Negative Impact on My Health & My Exciting Plans to Improve It

I have an amazing announcement!  I’m going to do something outrageous and way outside of my comfort zone! Wondering what it is?  Well keep reading.

This year in India has been brutal. Seriously, it’s been the hardest year of my life, surpassing even my two divorces and the death of my mother in 2004. Never mind all the cultural differences, demanding work and loneliness. Each of those challenges has been exponentially compounded by a single factor, my diminishing good health.

The Cause of My Declining Health

Now to be fair, I can’t blame it all on India. Yes, the pollution is awful! I can taste it in my mouth and feel it in my lungs. I’ve developed a persistent little cough since I’ve been here, much like many Indians. I’m always hacking up phlegm and sneezing. I usually have at least three sneezing fits every day.

Aside from the pollution problem and its effect on my health, I haven’t been eating right. Indian food is very greasy and heavy on carbohydrates. The sauces (they call them gravy) are loaded with butter and oil. They use very few fresh fruits and vegetables in traditional Indian food. Slowly but surely I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve nearly gained 10 pounds this year.

I haven’t done a great job at exercising either, which also explains my weight gain. Usually I go to the gym and work out several times a week. Unfortunately, due to the time difference (currently 13.5) hours I often have conference calls very early in the morning or very late at night. Add to that the demotivation I’ve felt because of being away from my family and friends, feeling sluggish from a poor diet and my lungs being full of crap, and well, I’ve just fallen off the gym wagon.

About these ads

Nepalese Man Resting in the Sun

The 5 Things That I Liked Most About the People of Nepal

Nepal is a beautiful country full of gorgeous countryside, fascinating cultural and a rich history. But my favorite thing about the country was the people. They left me with a lasting impression of peace, happiness and love.

They are happy

The Nepalese people were always so happy! They had big smiles on their faces and always gave us a warm greeting. According to Phycology Today “a happy person is someone who experiences frequent positive emotions, such as joy, interest, and pride, and infrequent (though not absent) negative emotions, such as sadness,anxiety and anger. Happiness has also been said to relate to life satisfaction, appreciation of life and moments of pleasure.” To me this has never been more evident than on the faces of the Nepalese people.

They are simple

This may be closely related to number 1. Perhaps when you don’t have to spend two hours a day commuting or have to worry about posting on all your social media it is easier to just be happy. The people that I saw were very poor. They lived in little shanties and were lucky if they had electricity. Yet they seem to genuinely appreciate what they have, instead of focusing on what they don’t have.

Himalaya Mountains in Nepal

Trekking in Nepal: A Hellacious Journey to a Heavenly Destination

Sitting in the airplane heading back to Delhi, flying high above the jagged snow topped peaks of the Himalaya Mountains, I realized I already missed Nepal. The five days had gone by entirely too fast. The beauty, culture and adventure had left a lasting impression on me and I was already thinking about the possibility of a return trip.

 

A couple of important things to note. Indians do not need a passport or visa to visit Nepal but they need a voter’s ID card and one other piece of ID. Also, if you are wondering if Nepal has recovered from the 2015 earthquake, the answer is both yes and no. There are obviously many buildings that were completely destroyed and still need to be dealt with, but not enough that it interfered with our trip in any way.

Kathmandu

We arrived in Kathmandu late on Friday afternoon and wasted no time investigating all the cool places within walking distance to our guest house. Sporting goods stores specializing in trekking gear are everywhere, and their prices were incredible! Kirti needed some hiking boots for our three-day trek and we were pleasantly surprised to find a pair to fit his large feet. There were also tons of great Napalese handicrafts. We had a particularly good time in a knife store admiring all the intricate kukri knives. They had a range of sizes, from pocket knives to huge swords. Each one was handmade and we were so impressed that I bought one for my own collection. It has a jeweled sheath and is absolutely stunning!

ATM line in India

Banking Problems and Government Corruption in India

The Cause

There is a run on cash in India and it is creating huge lines at banks along with growing anxiety and hostility among the people. India is primarily a cash based culture. Only the upper classes have credit or debit cards. Foreign cards often don’t work at all. In a bold and unprecedented move, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, announced late on November 8th that Rs 500 notes and Rs 1,000 notes would be illegal. The idea behind the ruling is to curb crime, corruption and the funding of terrorism that runs deep within India. They are giving everyone until December 30th to deposit or exchange their old bills. In the meantime ATMs have been closed for days and people are only able to withdraw a maximum of 10,000 per day or 20,000 in one week, assuming the bank has the cash to dispense.

I have witnessed the corruption here first hand. It is a common practice to bribe a policeman with a 500 rupee note when pulled over for a traffic violation. Once an ATM swallowed my debit card which left me in a world of hurt with no access to cash. The ATM guard told my assistant it was impossible to get my card back. He changed his story when she bribed him with a 500 note. I then got it back instantly. So you can see how common corruption is. Now imagine all these officials, criminals and terrorists with STACKS of cash that have been rendered useless. It may very well help stop corruption, but in the meantime it is causing sheer chaos on the economy and its people. 

Making Friends in India

The One Word from a Hater in India That Sent Me over the Edge

You know that old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  Well, that’s bull shit!  The wrong words, at the wrong time, can be emotionally devastating. Even those of us that are often considered strong and independent have our breaking point. I’m no exception. As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I recently had one of those moments when just one word from a hater sent me into a tail spin that lasted for days.

 

It hasn’t been easy adjusting to all the cultural differences in India.  The fact is, as much as I try to learn and adapt, I’m still an outsider here.  I’m reminded of it every day when people stare at me like some sort of monstrosity or don’t understand what I’m saying. Even if they do understand me, they often don’t understand my intent. I am constantly misunderstood and judged. It has been far more difficult to make friends here than I ever imagined.  I have finally managed to make a handful of friends, but it’s still a huge challenge to try not to offend each other or misjudge the other person’s behavior. I have been trying very hard to not be overly sensitive to such things, but the other day a hater said something to me that felt like a punch in the face!  Here is what happened.