Culture shock can occur due to plenty of different things. Here in India, I have come across a few interesting and “shocking” things, but nothing more than a mango I bought from the side of the road on my way home.
How about all the other new things? Yes, I have had some new bathroom experiences where the toilet, sink and shower are all in the same room. Everyday I shower about 5 inches away from the toilet, and the hot water that I waited 30 minutes for only last about 7 minutes.
Driving on the roads is hectic. I am not sure why there are lines painted because it is all about who can weave through the maze of cars to get to their destination as fast as possible. And crosswalks? Well, you can throw that idea out the window. Being in a slow moving vehicle is out of the ordinary. If I am in a slow auto rickshaw, I start to wonder whether or not it is going to break down. Here, I like to call the traffic an organized chaos.
The honking system here is also very different than in the states. I have noticed that honking is not to tell the person who cut you off that they are a terrible person (sometimes this is true here), but it is to notify the drivers around you that you are here, don’t hit me! Sometimes though, there is no equation and the honking definitely seems aimless. I’d like to think they use it to stay awake or have secret code with the other drivers on the road.
There have also been many cows, stray dogs and the occasional rat that passes by on what you can call a sidewalk. Nobody here eats and walks at the same time because you must be aware while you are walking. There are about 100 things happening around you all at once along with the surprise cow poop that you do not want to step on. The internet cuts out often, the coffee is extremely tiny, and the amount of spice in the foods can confuse my palette. Sometimes I just eat because I don’t know what I’m tasting anymore. There are just so many spices going on at one time and it all tastes good.
Never the less, it was the mango that had me extremely confused. The mango was purchased for about 40 rupees from a fruit cart I passed by on my walk home. Considering I worked at a fruit stand for almost three years, you would think I had a grasp on fruits. Nope, not the mango. For some strange reason, I eliminated the option that mango varieties could taste different. It looked so similar to the yellow mangos we bought at the grocery store growing up, yet its flavors were unreal. To say the least, I ate this mango about 5 days ago and I am still thinking about it. It was sweet, yet tangy and embodied the definition of tropical. I sound crazy, but its tang was not like anything I have tasted before. I have never been more confused. Every bite I took felt like a conflicting tornado. “This is a mango? There is no way this is actually a mango. Why does it taste tangy. Is something wrong here? It’s like a yellow peach meets mango meets pineapple…maybe not.. I have no idea. What is happening? THIS IS A MANGO. Must keep eating. But its just so weird. I don’t know anymore, my life is a mess.” My roommates were laughing at me as I sat confused while eating for 10 minutes. After finishing the entire fruit, I am still unsure of what exactly I ate or what it tasted like.
I can now say I have experienced culture shock all because of this one mango. Thank you mango.