Welcome to the Best Of 2012 Awards! And congrats on surviving reading my posts for the past year!
How do I sum up these crazy past months? If it were a Mastercard ad, it’d look something like this:
Three pieces of Maltese filigree jewelry: 27 Euros
Feeding Coop on a monthly basis: 14% of India’s national budget
Working and traveling through 9 countries, contracting at least 2 diseases, being on crutches for 50 days in a country already notorious for its non-sidewalks, standing where no foreigner has stood before, somersaulting down sand mountains, eating wild honeycomb, having Helen Mirren give your dress the once-over in the ladies’ room, and becoming a sought-after palm reader in northern India: priceless
That said, here are the best, the worst, and the why-did-you-feel-it-necessary-to-tell-us-that awards for 2012.
Most awkward moment: I mean, everything. When none of the sarees at the wedding fit me? Picking apart the maggot-infested eggplants incorrectly? Having a stranger come up to you on the street and pull your Indian kurta down because you’re offending everyone? Being hit on by a married man–in front of all his relatives? Accidentally interrupting everyone at the temple who has come to get a blessing just because you’re a foreigner? Sinking into mud while rice farming because you weigh twice as much as the next man and woman combined? Explaining to your hosts that you can’t eat something because you’ll get massive diarrhea if you do? Saying no to a marriage proposal? I dunno, you tell me.
Most incredible view: Waking up with nomads to see snow-capped Himalayan peaks turn pink in the sunrise.
Best thing I ate: You expect me to list one thing? You gotta be kidding me. Here are a few of my favs:
Malaysia: Roti Canai with beef and chicken curry dip, of course
India: Sweet green onion-potato curry served with soft pouri; upma; peanuts from Ahmedabad, which were so good I had to give myself a daily ration. Until I noticed half of them had grubs inside (well, they tasted delicious at the time!); my coworker’s sister’s red pepper eggplant mash. Looked like poop, tasted awesome
Malta: Sfine?? bl-irkotta ??elwa (sweet ricotta-stuffed mini éclairs drenched in local honey). Ahhhh maaah gaaaawsh
The event people cannot stop talking about: Me in a dress at the red carpet 2012 European Film Awards. Compliments ranged from “not masculine” to “almost feminine.”
Best wildlife moment: Wild elephants that came out of the blue and stormed into a clearing below us–seen while hiking up a monolith in India. I mean, come on!
Only thought about my life: Wait, I have one?
Place to never visit again: Bangalore. Saw some pretty terrible stuff there, and plus, the city has little to offer in terms of being unique. Unless you want to try the McTikka “burger,” of course.
Moment I realized I was a cat lady: That did not happen in 2012.
When I came home from Malta, I was delighted to see… that my (much younger) little brother was loving college and not gaining too much more than the freshman fifty.
When I came home from Malta, I was saddened to see…that my mother was watching Gangnam Style.
Best comment from your boss: Me, to my boss while driving: “Have you noticed that there are a disproportionate number of, uh, little people on this island?” My boss: “You mean midgets? There must be a nest or something.”
Thing I’m still shocked about: How NYers are still the most interesting and simultaneously obnoxious people of the world. I need to get out of here.
Most uncomfortable sleep: That time in the Himalayas when I was sleeping in a hut with hay and no one who spoke a single word of English and then in the middle of the night a cow broke loose and wanted to snuggle and burst in and trampled our feet and because it was pitch black no one knew what was happening but because it was Asia no one particularly cared that some of us were now missing limbs and stuff. Yeah.
Best thing I never ate: The combo fried horse, quail, and rabbit platter. I think it was served with rice and cole slaw.
Most accurate word on what the Thai locals thought of me: Godzirra!
Best scuba diving experience: That was probably in Malta on the Um El Faroud, when we dove in and out of this underwater playground (as in the galley, an exploded part of the ship, a ladder escape, staircases) and then jumped off the bow of the boat, sinking down slowly to 35 meters in the most pure blue waters. Man, what a dive.
Best name: One of my students in India had the name Saddam Husen. I’m serious. We still chat online, and he’s such a lovely guy—and we have the same birthday. Adorable.
Best attempt at lowering my self-esteem: While a co-worker/friend (also from America) and I were visiting a student’s home, the guy’s uncle came out to meet us. He chatted for a few minutes, then looked down at us and back up. “You are fat,” he said. “What?” I asked, surprised at the sudden turn of events. “Fat. You’re fat. F…A…T.” he spelled out, assuming my “What?” had been me not understanding what he was saying. I tried to hold in my laughter, but it’s still a running joke there. If you get offended easily, do not come here.
Worst thing I ate: Santol, a tree fruit with the texture of cotton balls and an aftertaste of acid. When mixed with fish sauce, shrimp paste, cilantro, red pepper, and other goodies, the result is, I mean, how could it possibly be anything but horrendous? I tried it two different times, two bites each. Trust me. Don’t do it.
Best statistic: In 2012 I slept in 65 different places.
Best comment on that statistic: “Well, that’s less than a HOBO.”
Best crisis averted: I almost didn’t get gelato in Italy. But then, just minutes before I had to catch my train to the Pisa airport, I found a place and got half cream biscuit/half amaretto cherry, as picked by the guy serving me. My look of ecstasy at eating ice cream around 11:30 in the morning must have shown on my face, for two bikers whizzing past saw my cone, shouted, and nearly crashed. Awesome.
Thanks for reading! Here’s to the unknown of 2013…let’s hope it’s good.