Highly specific / vague plans for small-town central India

#1 Jun 19th, 2018, 03:13
Join Date:
Jun 2018
Location:
USA
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  • serimachi is offline
#1
Hello India Mike,

I'm about to begin my biggest adventure yet in this great country. Taking advantage of my OCI status as the son of a former Indian citizen, this summer I'll be moving--indefinitely--to India.

My initial plan is to go to Bangalore and hang out with some of my buddies there for about a month, maybe visiting some of my other friends in the south during that time.

Then, my desire is to go to a yet-undetermined area in the north. I want two things out of this location:

1.) A rural or small town setting. Almost all of my time I've spent in India, I've spent in urban or highly tourist-y enviornment. That's been awesome, but there's a lot of ink spilled about how you can't understand India without understanding the village. I come from a small town myself and know how different life can be.

2.) I want to finally learn ruddy Hindi. It's been a desire throughout my life, but I've never put in the effort. Now the stars have aligned. This will be my main goal during this phase of my travels, besides observing (and hopefully integrating myself to some extent with) local lifestyles.

After a few months there, I plan to return to the city and resume working. (And write, and get engaged with my community, and continue mastering Hindi--etc. Build a life, basically.)

This middle phase of the plan is vague. I know it will probably involve heading to MP or UP, since any other <i>rural</i> area is not going chiefly speak Hindi.

Unfortunately, most of my friends and connections are in the south, where I've spent most of my time during previous trips. Hopping on buses to random villages in central India is, I'm told, not advisable. (I'm not necessarily afraid of losing my kidney, despite some colorful stories I've heard, but besides being more dangerous, it'd be hard to pull off just <i>showing up</i> in a small town even in America, especially w/o knowing the language.) So I'm looking for some way to achieve this part of the plan.

My biggest lead right now is Ujjain, where a close friend of many years lives. It is perhaps a larger than I want, but at worst it's a great place to make more connections, and the convenience of a large town might actually be ideal during my initial fumbling with the language barrier (e.g accessibility of tutors and the Internet).

I'm looking for general comments and advice. I'm sure some of you have spent time in less central areas and can give information and warnings. Furthermore, I'm looking for ideas--ideas of how to form connections and pull off this middle part of the trip. (One person has suggested asking around temples in the city and seeing if I can find any useful contacts.)

I'm dead sleepy today. Forgive me for any errors and for my unusually grey tone. I'm so excited! Please, ask any clarifying questions or comments if you have them.
#2 Jun 19th, 2018, 12:18
Join Date:
Jan 2012
Location:
Mumbai - Pune - ?
Posts:
1,158
  • kapilankar is offline
#2
My suggestion would be to look up a language school or volunteering institute there. It will give you a chance to build up local contacts and learn the language. Once you're confident of both of these aspects, you can take a hike to the countryside. I think there are threads of people doing such stuff on the Chattisgarh and Uttarakhand forums. Probably Varanasi and some places in Rajasthan would also have options.

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