I can’t believe it. I’m sitting in the Mumbai airport, $50 overweight luggage fee paid, last 500 rupees spent on Indian development books and Cosmo and chocolate (I sure love dualism), and I’ll be in the US in 21 hours. Even though my flight leaves at 8:40 pm from Mumbai to Delhi and continues for a 15-hour flight to NYC, with the 10.5 hour time difference, I still arrive in New York at just 6am the next day.
So many thoughts are swirling through my head and I feel many mixed emotions. I did not think it was possible for a person to change this much in four months, but I have. I feel light-years more mature, more patient, understanding, and less selfish than I was in August. Studying abroad in a place as culturally different, challenging, and profound as India stretched me immensely.
The way I feel about India is a lot more intense than how I feel about the United States. Of course I have national pride and am very proud to be American. But for India, I feel passionate things. Intense hatred about some parts, and intense love for other parts of the great Indian nation. The place oozes constant juxtaposition. Juggling the good with the bad, and the profound with the profane became a necessary daily exercise.
I am anxious to not slip back into my old self, pre-India. At the same time, I genuinely await the comforts of my home country, university, friends, and family. Reminiscing over the thousands of photos, thumbing through my well-worn class notes, and preparing the special chai from Kerala-purchased tea will not take me back here.
I want to be able to, as my blog is titled, seek santulan (balance). I want to share my experiences with others, articulate what I’ve learned, but at the same time I hope I can find new appreciation for my American life.
I don’t want to remember India as idyllic, because it’s not. In the same way (contrary to popular belief) that America is not all Coke, McDonalds, and Britneys, India is not a country of IT only, mass poverty only, or Hindus only. It is the most stimulating, beautiful, ugly, diverse, dirty, delicious, faithful, and welcoming place I have ever been.
|Old Goa, Goa|
And I only spent four months here.
|recycling plant, Dharavi, Mumbai, Maharashtra|
I lived with Indians, traveled more often and farther than ever before, ate more rice in four months than the past four years, learned to cross a crazy street, speak, write, and read Hindi, ride an elephant, spend meaningful time with the poor, teach English to children, befriend students from all over the US, and gain a deeper appreciation for the concept of parivar (family). So many of the lessons I learned here will stay with me beyond Bharat (India). At this time, that’s all I can articulate. Thanks for reading. Namaste. America awaits.