Learning Hindi and Discovering my Heritage

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“Kya chahin hain?” asked the man standing behind the register. “Mujhey ye coffee chaaheeye,” I replied. Without any confusion, he made my beverage and handed it to me. I praised myself quietly about my improved conversational skills in Hindi. When I first arrived in India, I would either mistakenly mix in Gujarati words or mispronounce words in Hindi. I never really noticed my “American” accent until I came abroad. More astonishing than my improvement in Hindi, was the fact that I chose to come to this café despite my past reluctance. I weaved around the bustling crowd and found an empty table to sit at. I admit that I was at first taken aback by a horde almost as dense as one in a marketplace, but now I find the café to be quite lively. I looked around at the entrance to see if any of my friends were arriving. “I’m a little early but at least I can never get bored waiting,” I thought to myself as I took a sip from the coffee. I used to think that there was just something off about the coffee in India. It isn’t the tall Starbucks café mocha with whip I was accustomed to back in the US. The aroma was familiar, but the cardamom flavor was that unexpected hint of spice you would only find in India. Regardless, I could not give up going to a café just because of a few minor differences. It was my sanctuary from the outside world- a place where I could gather my thoughts and gain inspiration. Reminiscing about the past, I pulled out an old sketchbook. I reflected back at how I first discussed my sudden decision to study abroad with my best friends in Maryland. They patiently listened to me explaining how I received an acceptance letter from an international school in India. They were surprised at first, but they understood ... ... middle of paper ... ...ren. They had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and were not shy to take if from anyone willing to share. I realized that I was learning a whole lot more than what I was teaching. I had little to give back for the lessons of life I learned from them. I gulped down the last bit of coffee when I heard, “Hey Aru!” I looked up and saw my friends hovering over my sketchbook. I have developed strong friendships with my classmates. We not only share interests, but find endearing qualities in our differences. Through my friendships, I solidified my beliefs and individuality. I learned more about India, and developed a new global perspective. A friend stared at my empty cup confused. “I thought you didn’t like the coffee here”. “What gave you that idea,” I replied, looking at all my friends, “I’m really going to miss it. It’s not Starbucks, but it’s perfect.”

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