My story about first experience in New Delhi (which was, as I see, a demanding place for a first stay in India) had a very conventional beginning. It was tough. And even tougher, because of the many culturally mediated visions of India which I already had. So yes, at the very beginning I found how challenging the new urban space can be and how demanding are the most obvious aspects of everyday life.
But New Delhi became mainly the great challenge for my Western mindset, based on really strong fantasies about Indian spirituality, gender habits, social and religious inequalities. As a scholar with some academic background, it should be obvious that my experience is entangled in a various narrations about India, but even though I was fighting every day with my own feeling of reality, that cannot be conceptualized in my former vocabulary.
But of course, my three-month secondment had nothing in common with such a dark, and hyperreflective work on concepts, and vocabulary. I met many people who gave me a great opportunity to have a fantastic time in Delhi. I was visiting a few universities, where I gave lectures, and had at least a few inspiring discussions about the role of our cultural imagery on material experiences. I had also found a great interest among students for Polish language and art, which was really unexpectable opportunity to see my own culture from a distant perspective.
So, somewhere between competing with cars as a proud but irresponsible pedestrian, and confronting Western fantasies about ‘authentic’ India, I found a marvelous experience of being temporary local not in my own land.