Wham! The driver suddenly slammed the breaks, effectively jolting me awake from my nap. As I yawned myself awake, the strong odor that then proceeded to invade my nostrils quickly penetrated my grogginess. That unarguably unique stench—a mixture of too much dirt, sweat, numerous animals, excessive pollution, and a plethora of other indistinguishable health hazards—was all I required to verify my whereabouts. India. After an exhausting 14 hour flight from Chicago to New Delhi, my parents, younger sister and I had drowsily clambered into the hired car and attempted to sleep through the wearisome drive from the airport to my grandparent’s house six hours north. I had visited India every year or so since the age of two, and the trips were always a month at the least. Despite that, no amount of experience could ever make me accustomed to the soul-sucking actuality that is India in the dead of July. Six sticky hours in a crowded car with an indecisive air conditioning system, did nothing to further endear me to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Before rolling down one of the car’s cloudy dust covered windows, I fished out a red cotton bandana and secured it around my nose and mouth in preparation for the onslaught of dry polluted air. I could almost taste the dirt in my breath, and I knew that any exposed skin would be coated in a fine layer of grime if I left the window open. Still, the semblance of ventilation was better than nothing. The window stayed open. Squinting through the hazy orange atmosphere, I observed the passing countryside. Barefoot brightly dressed women walked leisurely along the dirt road carrying jugs of water, baskets of fruits, or bundles of wheat. We passed numerous wooden carts pulled by horses or oxen, clunky old tractors, over-packed trucks, and a surprising number of Audis. The sweet perfume accompanying endless rows of sugarcane crops briefly provided respite for my offended sense of...
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