No one can believe the trip is over already. We've had the most amazing experience - from meeting new people at the different placement sites to teaching others and learning so much ourselves and weekend getaways that don't always go to plan. All the things we've learnt along the way will undoubtedly help us in our future physio careers and in our lives. So I thought I'd finish off this blog by telling you some Do's and Don'ts we've learnt in India
Don't say yes to being in a photo with one Indian. This one Indian will soon become 100 Indians and instead of the Taj Mahal being the attraction, it will be you. We're still not quite sure what they do with all the photos of us but everyone seems to need one with the tallest whitest, blondest haired people in the group - special thanks to Swedish Giants Jack and Elise for taking the bullet most times on this front.
Don't always believe your trekking tour guide's weather forecast. Although they dress and act like they're "one with the earth" and have done this hike over 1000 times, even if they say it won't rain, it might definitely rain... And hail... And be windy as anything. Your tent might collapse and they might not get out of their cosy tent to help you fix it or cook you a warm dinner. You might have to wait out a 7-hour storm while propping up your tent with your head. So yeah, just trust me, don't always trust them!
Don't try to understand the Indian head nod. It might mean yes, it might mean no, it might mean that they have no idea of what you've just said and it's the Indian equivalent of smiling politely because that usually suffices as an appropriate response to any question. Either way we never could quite work it out and generally assumed it was whichever response we wanted it to be!
Now on the flip side
Do take up the offer to visit a 150 year old tea plantation. We were lucky enough that our host dad's family owned a 100-hectare tea plantation just a 15-minute walk from our house. His father, the most passionate tea maker I've ever met, showed us around the expansive property full of bright green tea hedges while explaining the difference between the techniques of preparing green and black tea. We learnt about the sorting, packaging and exporting of this tea to many countries around the world. It was such a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.
Do try extreme sports. The views while paragliding were incredible and we can now all say we've paraglided in the same spot the world championships were held. We also tried our hand at white water rafting, arguably the best activity we did on the weekends. We set off from Manali in two rubber rafts and followed each other down the Rapids. Our guides were excellent and ensured our safety while sending us straight for waves ensuring we were soaked with the biggest smiles on our faces by the end of the 14km trip. All for only $12!
Do try paneer. And any other meal you're served for that matter. We ate predominantly vegetarian the whole trip with the exception of chicken on a couple of meals we ate out and chicken or lamb once a week at the house. Our wonderful chef never disappointed, to the point some of us (previously "carnivores") weren't even craving meat.. For the first week anyway! Paneer is the most delicious cottage cheese often in a tomatoey sauce with peas or spinach sauce. We also had a mixture of Dahl, chickpeas in curry and beans in curry accompanied by a variety of breads; chapati, kulcha and naan.
Do take up the opportunity to visit India! Whether it be for study, work or a holiday, it's a beautiful place to visit and the people aim to look after you, on the most part, and show you all that India has to offer. We've seen and learnt so much of the culture, their physiotherapy treatments and the attractions to see and unless someone is keeping really quiet about it, none of us regret coming here for our advanced physiotherapy practice placement. We're so thankful for the experience and now it's onto further travels around the world or home to rest, relax and enjoy our mid-year holiday!!