From This Morning:
I’m sitting on the roof of my guest house, watching the sun come up over Hyderabad. This is my first trip to India in almost 2 years. So much has changed since then.
On my first trip to India, I was a scared young kid, fresh out of college and desperate to prove to myself.
Looking back, I mostly failed miserably. I didn’t take enough risks, other times I took too many. I wanted the place to be things it wasn’t. I wanted the people to be something they weren’t. India and I weren’t lovers at first sight; we were awkward getting used to each other. I told myself there was no way I was going back to India anytime soon.
Life has a way of surprising you though. 4 months later, I was on a plane to Goa for my first real test on the job.
It was a giant work meeting held in a hotel on the beach. Mostly all I remember was swimming in the waves with the man I was finally beginning to call my boyfriend.
Now, that man is my husband and I’m back in India for 3 weeks.
For weeks, I’ve been crying about coming back. Yes crying. At first I thought it was all because of missing Chris. We aren’t the sorts who need much personal space, we don’t relish time away from one another and 3 weeks is a long time for us.
And then I realized it was that plus a little more.
It was also the getting back in the ring with India for a second round.
India has seen me at my weakest and my strongest. It was always like we were sparing when I lived here. She’d knock me down and I would get up swinging and angry, only to get clocked in the face again. I was a clumsy bull in the china shop at first, striking wildly just stay in the fight.
In throwing everything from theft to illness to bribery to assault at me, India made me stronger. I learned how to stay tough, how to talk, how to bargain, how to show no fear. Towards the end we came to a sort of uneasy peace. I could leave with my war stories and maybe even forget the silly girl I was when I came if I never came back in the same way-alone.
Except I have come back alone and India knows all my secrets. The next few weeks I will have to run around town navigating the terrain all over again to secure the things and appointments I need for our conference in a few weeks.
Last night, I rode into town feeling old, like I was still being pulled a little unwillingly back into an old fight. I read the advertisements on the side of the highway, smelled the sulfur and decay of the garbage pits, saw the packs of dogs in the middle of the road.
I wasn’t happy to be back, but not unhappy either. I didn’t know what I was.
It’s a little different this time. My first time in India, that first night I woke up at 4am and cried for not being able to call anyone at home to tell them I had made it. This time, I was more patient. Read a book, tried to sleep, wrote this post and waited it out until I could get on to skype.
This time I know the routine. I took stock of my room, took a quick bucket shower, took some glass out of my foot and took a nap under the sheets I had known to bring with me this time. I woke up marginally refreshed, able to enjoy the rooftop view and the sounds of India waking up, starting with the sweeping women, then the roosters, then the families preparing breakfast, and finally to the honks and beeps along the roads as the pace picks up.
So, before I go in for breakfast, I’ll take a few shots to share with you as soon as I have internet long enough to get them loaded.