Biddeford vs India

Asha Tompkins, Staff Writer

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Have you ever tried to do homework sitting on top of a dining room table, holding an electric bug zapper, swatting at mosquitoes big enough to suck out your soul, while trying to stay away from a lizard the length of your forearm?

No? I am. Right now. I’m doing homework in India. It’s a pretty snazzy set-up.

The thing about traveling to a third world country is that you learn to count your blessings, and as I sit on this dining room table, sweating in the 98 degree heat since the fans don’t work due to frequent power outages, I might as well compile a list, or fill a book. However, even though it has it’s downsides, India is a beautiful country.

This is someone’s front yard in a village. [As you can see, the cows are free-range and totally high quality, I named it Clark.]

The next time you want to throw a candy wrapper in the dirt in front of school, remember that it’ll start looking like Clark’s favorite corner restaurant that you see above; you’ll never want to wait for the bus there again. The reason for the trash build-up is that some people don’t exactly care about the environment as they should, there is such a large population that it’s hard to keep control of the trash.

Something I miss: you can actually breathe in America.

Although we have our fair share of weird smells in Biddeford, you need a gas-mask to walk down a city-street in India. There’s a combination of car exhaust, dust, trash and puddles of unknown liquid wafting through your nostrils. It’s so pleasant. Although many people eventually get used to the stench, it’s still harmful to one’s lungs and you’ll often see people covering their faces with scarves and bandanas. One of the things I do appreciate about the scent is you can locate the street foods easily, and let me tell you, that’s some darn good tasting stuff.

Update: the lizard just crawled up to the ceiling and I may die.

It’s actually harmless, (I’m not going to act like it won’t claw out my eyes. You must stay alert in these situations.)

Speaking of animals.

There are no wild dogs/monkeys/bats fighting each other in Biddeford.

I basically witnessed the death of another Harambe, except it wasn’t Harambe. If they didn’t kill the monkey, it would have eaten someone’s face. Like it or not, cooking random stuff is part of Indian culture.

It’s very rare that you’ll find someone with a pet because of diseases that are commonly spread by animals, you basically have to avoid them if you want to keep your life.

Now, lizards. My bane. I don’t personally appreciate watching amphibians stalk across the wall of my bathroom while I’m trying to take a shower. Due to that fact, you either have to chase the ones near you out the door and off a balcony or smack them with broomsticks before they crawl into your clothes/beds etc. Besides that, they eat the legions of mosquitoes!

The next time you see a pet, make sure you give it a treat, some extra lovin’, just make sure it’s vaccinated.

The thing I love the most about this trip is seeing the massive rice fields at sunset.


I will miss this the most. You pull over on the side of the road and just watch the breeze through the blades of rice. The fields stretch for miles and they’re the brightest green you can imagine. The sun is usually huge at sunset and a crimson color, even though I’ve been here for almost a month, it never fails to amaze me.

Another thing I miss are the bathrooms. They don’t actually have showers here, you use a pail and a bucket filled with water at your desired temperature. (Most of the time you have take cold-water baths because you sweat enough to fill the Nile river during the day.)

After talking with some students in India, I discovered that they deal with a great amount of pressure because there is so much competition in terms of national testing and grades. In America, there’s usually catering towards students in a more individual sense, rather than an entire school living up to a certain standard. Most of the Indian students shoot for the engineering/tech field as well as the medical field, so, as you can imagine, those industries are booming. In order to reach that goal, they have to go through a series of tests which weed out the “good” from the “bad” students. Believe it or not, there is a very high success rate in the Indian education system.
Although it’s my fourth time visiting this country, this trip has opened my eyes the most. No matter how much we complain in America about petty things, like a fast-food restaurant giving you the wrong order, or the “Not Enough Storage” message popping up on your phone, the next time you look around you, realize you’re in a country that gives you free education and a ticket to be whomever you want to be, based on how well you do. Consider the fact that there are people in India and basically anywhere in the world that would give their arms and legs just to have the opportunities and comforts that we often take for granted.

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