January 15th was our last day in India and it was truly bittersweet. Many of the students on the trip, including myself, are missing their family, friends, and most importantly “American food”. We are all looking forward to sleeping in our own beds and getting back on our normal sleep schedule. What we are not looking forward to is the journey back home. Many of us today were discussing how much we are dreading spending another 17 hours on an airplane. However, these conversations subsided in the evening of our last day in India when were welcomed into the home of Sushil and Neelam Bansal, a guide that was with us for the first portion of our trip and his wife. Mrs. Bansal invited us to their home for traditional Indian games, food, and hennas. It was absolutely the perfect way to close this trip. India has such a rich culture and we were given one last reminder of that at the Bansal’s home. We approached their home to see it was decorated with fresh carnations strung along the outside of the home. One of our professor’s, Dr. Anu, informed us that flowers strung in this way are meant as a symbol of welcoming. Mrs. Bansal met us at the door and placed red dots on our foreheads and beaded bracelets on our wrists. We entered the home barefoot and were offered drinks and snacks. We spent the better part of the night at their home playing games, receiving henna tattoos on our hands, and experiencing a traditional Indian dinner. It was by far the best Indian food we had the whole trip.
I originally interpreted this evening at Mr. and Mrs. Bansal’s home as being quite a burden for them simply because there are 23 of us on this trip. That is a lot of mouths to feed. However, Dr. Anu explained that in Indian culture, the guest is perceived as a god, it is not perceived as a burden. Learning about this aspect of Indian culture and seeing how excited Mrs. Bansal was to have us all their changed my interpretation. I felt welcomed and very humbled that she was so happy to invite us into their home.
I feel the entire experience of our study abroad trip in India made me a more well-rounded person. My eyes have been opened to a new culture and also to so many new aspects of the fashion industry. At this point in the trip we have all become quite close, this time has allowed for our relationships with each other to grow. I will remember sitting in the living room of the Bansal’s home with 20 of my classmates and friends in India, drinking masala chai tea and braiding each other’s hair, a pastime we picked up on the bus. The last night we spent in India is something I will hold onto as one of my favorite memories of our time together. After our evening at the Bansal’s home, we left for the airport to begin our journey home.