As I type from the sitting room of my housing in Pune, the Indian ladies are hard at work cooking the special holiday treats for Festival of Lights. I’m sipping my tea and feeling a bit lazy as my work involves constantly sitting, while they are always on their feet.
I’ve been here for three days, after a hellish sequence of flights. My first flight was cancelled and I scrambled to get on another flight in a futile attempt to make my connection to Singapore. I was able to book a flight at over five times what I paid for the cancelled flight, but the flight was delayed and I missed my connection. These were both firsts for me – cancelled and missed flights – and enough to test the patience of anyone, autistic or not.
Kiwi.com, the online travel agency I booked with, rerouted me through Taipei, with enough time to get to India on the flight I already had booked, but forcing me to skip Singapore, where I planned on spending a night in a capsule hotel followed by a day of site seeing. Instead of enjoying Singapore, I spent three full days in airports, with five different connecting flights. Talk about overwhelm!
I did catch a couple hours of sleep and a hot shower in the hotel airport in Bangalore, which was a huge life saver.
I made it safe and sound to Pune, India, with horribly swollen ankles and a massive migraine, but otherwise intact. No matter how experienced a traveler you are, each trip always brings some new adventure and life lessons.
From the airport in Pune, I took an Uber to Deep Griha Cultural Centre, my home for the next month. As my driver weaved in and out of lanes, running red lights and driving on the wrong side of the street, barely missing motorcyclists, pedestrians, and livestock, horns blaring all around me, I was reminded of my time in Uganda as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I became nostalgic in a country I had never been to before as I contemplated what a challenge it will be to write India for Aspies.
I don’t know if it’s possible, but I will do my best to find some tips for you guys in a country that is simply not built for people with sensory sensitivities.
My next India experience was reminiscent of life in Uganda, as well. The driver dropped me in the wrong place and when I called the housing complex, the lady didn’t speak any English. Luckily, a man on a motorcycle stopped and talked to her on my phone, and I was not far from my November home. I hopped on the motorcycle with my bags, grabbed on to the back handlebar, and we were off.
My room is simple and functional. I have a bed with a thin mattress and one pillow, a big metal locking closet to keep my belongings, a rug, a towel, soap, and buckets for bathing. We do have running water, and the water even gets hot. The shower head, however, does not work and there is no light in the bathroom.
I’m grateful for a ceiling fan, and power is on most of the time. When it goes out, it never seems to stay off longer than 10 minutes (I once went eight days with no power in Uganda, and three days was not uncommon). There is no Wi-Fi, but using my phone as a hotspot has worked pretty well so far.
The food is so delicious! I get home-cooked Indian meals served to me three times a day. Chapati, rice, chicken, papad, Indian tea, and lots of veggies. And the ladies just let me sample their Diwali treats, a variety of deep fried sugary sweets.
Now that I am settled in, I’m so happy to be here! Overall, my accommodation is really nice for 500 rupees a day (about $7 USD).
I have tours booked for Thursday and Friday, so look forward to some good info about Pune and the volunteer experience at Deep Griha Society over the next few weeks.
If you have any questions or comments about traveling to India, please share in the comments. I would love to hear from you!