As soon as I disembarked from the airplane in Visakhapatnam (better known as Vizag), I was choking on the heat. It was HOT. Before I left home for India, all of my family members told me that it was going to be hot, but having never visited in April, I completely underestimated it. Every day in Vizag was a scorcher, and to my surprise, all the ladies there were walking around in their saris! Coming from a girl who doesn’t even know how to drape a sari on her own, I can’t imagine being out in the heat with nine yards of fabric wrapped around me. I was struggling in my jeans! But I’ll stop complaining since I’ve heard that April showers are in full effect back home and I’m glad I’m missing out on that.
My cousin, her husband, and their two daughters live in Vizag because my cousin’s husband is in the Indian navy. So my visit came with a huge perk: he took me on a tour of a submarine! I am truly so proud that part of my family tree was/is in the Indian armed forces and I have always been interested in it, so getting a personal tour of the submarine and checking out the naval base was an invaluable experience. I was so impressed at the amount of meticulous detail that goes into the inner workings of the submarine, from its mechanics to the structure of its living quarters. Those bathrooms though? Only two for 100+ sailers! And here I thought the bathrooms in NYC dive-bars were bad!
Another highlight of this leg of my trip was that I celebrated my 26th birthday. A day that would invariably have been celebrated with bottomless brunch in NYC instead was spent touring some of the sites in Vizag, including dipping my toes into the Bay of Bengal for the first time, stopping to eat palm fruit on the side of the road, and eating various types of chaat (delicious Indian street food). It was a day full of fun and love and my cousin and family made me feel very special. With every birthday comes hope for a great year ahead, and I think this experience is helping me move in the right direction. I’m learning more about my culture and about myself every single day, and I’m truly grateful for that.