journey home from home

Leaving India
I freaked out a bit before getting to the airport. I know things go quite fast here but I still get nervous. I’ve been waiting for a while now.
Now I’m on the plane. I had a few conversations with a few friends before boarding. The general feeling I have is that I’m leaving home to go home. When I checked in I had to fill out an immigration paper to go through customs. There was a box to check – resident of. I live in India. I’m a resident of the US. But this has become so much of a home. Despite much of the craziness, it’s home. I think I put it best while speaking to Manoj – despite the craziness of India itself, the world I’ve created for myself here has been a really good one, so good that I can call it home.
My Mumbai friends gathered just to meet me. I mean – I’m not sure if they would have gathered anyway, but it was done in part for me, and I appreciate that so much. One friend even came to pick me up from the bus station. Four of them took me to the airport. We are each other’s support systems.
Work was equally difficult to say goodbye to even though it’s just for a few weeks. On Saturday I went to one of the communities where one of my centers is held. P.S. boarding is complete and I have an empty seat. Yay. Anyway, I had been promising Snehal that I’d come to her house for quite some time. I had every intention, but in between going to Delhi, going to the FRRO in Pune and finishing up work for before I left, it became very hard. I made a tour of much of the neighborhood, seeing many of the girls of that particular center. They are such great kids. It’s always nice to speak with the kids, as it’s always been nice, out of “formal” time.
They are coming through with insect spray through the cabin. I’ll take this time to sign off. See you at my other home.

In Airport Number 2
Zurich gives nothing for free. I’m at the airport. You have to pay for the internet here. In Qatar you don’t. My thoughts…while going through security into the new gate I freaked out thinking I’m not going to make it in New York again. My gut reaction was that I wanted to go home, India home. It’s not that I don’t want to go home, home, but it’s that I’m nervous. Second thought was that I want my family. It’s silly, but I almost started crying. I’m so excited to see them and my friends. It’s amazing. I should backtrack. The first thought that came into my head was that it’s really cold. While walking off the plane I could see my breath. I can’t remember the last time I could see my breath. I felt like a stranger to the cold. Every breath I exhaled slightly harder and marveled at my breath. Will it be like this the whole time? I want to get on the net. I want to talk to my friends; it’s totally possible, it’s 11:15 am there. Here my flight doesn’t even have a gate; it’s too early.

I’ve comfortably situated myself next to a TV screen so that I can see when they announce my gate and I can go find myself in another comfortable seat. Everything’s bigger. There’s a re-culture-isation that will happen I’m sure. I think it’s happening already. It might be a good idea there’s some buffer time in Switzerland. FYI to all my Indian friends reading this who I said I would get chocolate for because the airport will be cheap and Swiss chocolate is good…well imagine it’s overrated. It’s really, really expensive. I can buy cheaper Swiss chocolate in the US. Matter of fact, I can buy cheaper Swiss chocolate in India. Other real fears center around money. I don’t make a lot of money for India; imagine my salary in US prices. I’m scared I’ll be no fun because I can’t go out or do anything with my friends. I know my parents will be nice and help me out, but geez I’m 28 years old; this shouldn’t be the case. The other what ifs: what if I can’t justify certain things my friends do anymore; what if I can’t be the same with my friends. Both I know will happen, both I know I will have to excuse. When I got back from Guatemala I kept reminding myself that I couldn’t hold others to a standard or expectation of understanding if they haven’t experienced what I have. It’s really hard. You want everyone to understand how you feel, why you feel a certain way, and it’s just not possible. My relationship with my friends will change, but it would change regardless because that’s what life does. I’m going to stop being philosophical now.

Second Plane Ride:
I’m not sure what’s keeping me awake. I’m exhausted. In the past 10 minutes, I got excited about coming home. Not that I wasn’t excited in the first place, but there was a butterfly. It felt nice. When I’m traveling back and forth to Bombay, and, apparently when I travel anywhere, I listen to one album in particular, Blue by Joni Mitchell. I’m not sure how it got to be my travel soundtrack, but it is. I just thought that would be something interesting about my time here, or there.
I went through almost the whole Economist. It felt good to see the world again. We could get home delivery of the Economist at home, maybe we should. Sometimes I feel completely secluded from the rest of the world. India consumes you, or maybe it’s just my lifestyle there.
I have so many things but nothing mapped out for my vacation. I need to work on assessments for work, type up a few things; I need to be on vacation, sleep, laugh, hang, have fun; I need to see friends and family. I’m already going to my old job on Tuesday to say hi to everyone; I’ve claimed a friend on Friday who’s not working; I’ll spend a significant time with my family; I want to explore the city (I don’t want to freeze). I want to get there already. This last 5 hours is going to be rough.

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