I arrived in Finland on Thursday evening. The flight was late because of the mess at the Frankfurt airport. A thunder storm brought the whole Frankfurt airport to a halt and my plane from India had to land on another airport first. We finally reached Frankfurt about 4-5 hours late and I missed my next flight by only a few minutes. I got a seat on the next one, fortunately, and made my way to Finland. However, 8000 bags had gone missing in Frankfurt due to some technical fault somewhere, and even I lost two bags. The staff convinced me that I will get the bags back. Hope so. I took a bus from Helsinki-Vantaa airport to Jyväskylä and my dad picked me up from there and we came home at around 4am. I was surprised at how amazingly bright the summer nights are over here and how clean, silent and fast the bus was. And the car ride from Jyväskylä to my home felt like a drive into the middle of nowhere! But I also found that it is very, very beautiful here, just like I remembered.
This day, Wednesday, June 20., is my last day in India on this trip. Tonight I need to be at the airport at 11pm. Flight is at 1.10am. I have been in Hyderabad since Saturday night. On Sunday I spent time at a friend’s laptop, reading and sending lots of emails. I did a little bit of shopping also, last minute souvenirs. In the evening we went to Mocha, which has always been the traditional Sunday night hangout. Magda was in a conference in Kerala for the weekend so I could borrow her scooter to go there. It is fun to drive in Hyderabad, especially in the evening when there is less traffic.
On Monday I went to the office where I used to work to ask for a receipt of my salaries for the Finnish tax officials. I also went to Koti bazaar and got myself a fake Adidas sports bag to put some stuff in. Even after buying this new bag I still had to go to the post office to send a 9kg parcel to Finland. Yesterday night we had a farewell dinner at Angeethi, a nice North Indian restaurant on road number 1, opposite to Fusion9 and upstairs to Barista, in the Reliance building. Today I will go buy a couple of DVD’s for German trainees who were here last year and who made a small appearance in these movies. So I have to go to the post office again, but it won’t be too much of a trouble.
I am happy about going home. In the last couple of months I got very used to being a traveler and I will probably miss that lifestyle when I get back to the chores of normal life back in Finland. On the other hand I was homesick at times too. I missed sauna, chocolate, coffee, my family and friends and our beautiful summer cottage.
I will spend Midsummer at home with my family. The weekend after that is Saimaa Summer, a traditional summer event organized by one AIESEC committee in Finland. The weekend after that I will throw a house warming party in my new small flat in Kortepohja, building D. I will be back working in my old job starting from July 3. The Finnish summer is there, my friends are there, my bicycle and badminton racket and everything are there. And I will stay for a while now in Finland itself only.
It was a truly wonderful year that I spent here in India. I learned and experienced so much that I can really call this an eye-opener for me, a very educating and enlightening journey. I met tons of people on the way and that is the one thing you don’t get if you only sit at home in your familiar comfort zone. I met people with opinions, life experiences, expectations, dreams, strengths and weaknesses totally different from mine. That is the truly educating experience you get when you are abroad. The people I met here were practically without exception open-minded, brave, positive, social and adventurous. I loved spending time with them and I hope I managed to give also them something in return. I made some very good friends here and I want to see them later too, sooner or later.
I will write the last posts to this blog once I get back to Finland. I want to write about my experiences after coming back, if it really is the kind of a shock I have heard others talk about. This is it for now. I need to run out to do a few more things today and then spend some time here in the flat with these wonderful people. Then it is chalo Finland! 🙂
I have only about a week left of traveling. I am flying home from Hyderabad on Thursday, next week. I am very happy about going home, even though I still don’t have a flat in Jyvaskyla. I am sure I will find something. On Monday I came back to Kathmandu from the trek I did with my friend Andrei. We were quite fortunate with the weather, although the last couple of days were a little rainy. On the way back we saw a lot of landslides and once we even had to stop to move a couple of big boulders off the road! It was definitely the scariest bus ride of my life (the ride from Jaipur to Delhi is a good runner-up).
I have been in Nepal for a week now with my friend Andrei. We had to stop for a night in a small border town because of a bus strike, before getting the 18 hour busride to Kathmandu the next day. Since then we have been staying in Kathmandu, not doing anything special. We were supposed to go on a trek first a couple of days ago, but we postponed that by a day when we accidentally met Henrik, a Polish AIESEC trainee from Hyderabad, who wanted to come with us on the trek but needed some time to prepare. Then we had to postpone by one more day because I got fever last night. The fever was gone in the morning and we are trying to finally go on the trek tomorrow.
I have only three weeks left and then I am back in Finland. Time really goes fast. I will do this one trek and then possibly fly to Delhi to see a friend and then to Hyderabad to pack my stuff, have a farewell dinner with the others and then go home. I am quite ready to go now actually. 11 months is a long time to be away from home.
I am trying to find a flat in Jyvaskyla and a good friend of mine has been helping me with this. There is a small double flat on Puistokatu (Park street) that interests me at the moment. I have been trying to send an application for a student flat in Kortepohja for a couple of times but they always fail to receive it. It would be cheap to live there and there would be a lot of friends around, but then again a flat closer to the center would be nice, especially one that has not been inhabited by tens of students before me, like the flats in Kortepohja.
From Darjeeling I carried on to Sikkim, the largely Buddhist north-eastern corner of India, between Nepal and Bhutan and bordering Tibet in the north. Even more than in the northern part of West Bengal, I felt I was not in India anymore.
Kolkata was big, congested and very hot. I spent a few days there going through the sights and eating well. On Thursday I met a friend of mine from Delhi. We went to see the Kali temple, had a traditional Bengali fish lunch and got on the bus going up north to Darjeeling. The 40 degrees of Kolkata changed to the little over 10 degrees in the evening in Darjeeling, the “quintessential” hill station in the north-west corner of West Bengal. The people here look more Tibetan than Indian and, I have to say, they are friendlier here. When somebody offers you a taxi and you say no thanks they say OK without any more hassle! Wonderful 🙂
On Monday I went on a five nights long trek in the mountains. I met a couple of other trekkers on the jeep on the way to the starting point of the trek and then did most of the trek with them. The route went up to 3660 meters where it was really cold but the views were great as well. We were really lucky to get clear weather almost throughout the whole trek. We were able to see the 3. highest mountain in the world, Khangchendzonga, very well and even Mount Everest from a far! We also saw a lot of rhododendrons, mountain flowers, many of which are as high as trees.
This day I will spend just relaxing and getting over the trek. Tomorrow I will go to Sikkim, which is the state just north of Darjeeling. After that I am planning to go to Nepal and maybe do the Annapurna trek. North India would be a very interesting place to visit, let’s see how I have time for that.
It has been a while since the last post, almost a month! I have been to so many places since I was in Nagpur where I wrote the last time that I think I will just write briefly about where I have been. After Nagpur I stopped in Gwalior and Agra before heading to Delhi. In Gwalior I saw a great old fort on a hilltop and in Agra, naturally, the Taj Mahal and the Agra fort. I was impressed by Taj Mahal and spent a couple of hours (all the money’s worth) just gazing at it. Then it was time to move to the capital.
After Bhuj in Gujarat, north-western India, I spent a couple of weeks in the southern part of the state. I saw landscapes and scenes totally different from the area I had been to in Gujarat before, and I had some very memorable experiences.
After the Little Rann Sanctuary visit I have now spent a week (!) in Bhuj, a city in the heart of the area known as Kutch. Famous for its handicrafts and the Great Rann of Kutch desert (similar to Little Rann except bigger) it has been through some rough times, including the devastating 2001 earthquake, in which 10% of the city’s population perished. Nevertheless, the people here are enjoying life, they are extremely friendly and welcoming and the ages old traditions of creating the most amazing handicrafts are still strong.