Can I just say... India is amazing!
The food is wonderful here. I'm holed up in a 5-star (Indian stars?) vegetarian-only hotel that serves the most delicious food. However, I have to be careful because they like to slip dairy into things that I don't recognize as dairy.
My first two days here I was loving up on something called paneer until I found out in horror that it was made from milk. Milk curd is also a popular ingredient for many dishes here.
The exchange rate here is so ridiculous, it's sad. I tip just about everyone (from room service to buffet waiters and cab drivers [people you don't normally tip, according to my Indian cohorts]) approximately 10 rupees each time I need them. It has the effect
of tipping someone of similar occupation in the US $10. However, 10 rupees is less than $0.25! It really makes me sit back and gape in awe at how much I do not appreciate the money I make and how easily I waste it away. And then, I become even more depressed when I realize how much f'ing debt I'm in and exactly how much frakkin money that really is!
The culture here is amazing. Though, I have mixed feelings about the prevalence of Western influence here. While it's convenient that most everyone speaks English (thick accents notwithstanding), I've come to learn that their native tongue, Hindi, while in theory is one of the two official languages, it's actually treated like a second-class tongue. Educational institutions in India forbid the use of Hindi while in class from a very young age and there are even many Indians today, I am told, who do not even know how to speak Hindi and even more who can speak it well enough but are more literate in English than they are in Hindi, if they even know any Hindi at all!
Western influence is also easily seen visually as well. Not only is English plastered everywhere--more so than Hindi I'd say but models of European decent are used in so much advertising here it's crazy. According to Indian co-workers here, products sell better when you put a Western face on it.