Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Arrival

I just arrived back in India for a full year. The flight was just over an hour late, but it hardly seemed to make any difference. I can't even mentally calculate the amount of time I was in transit. I have to do it written down. So lets see, 5.5 hrs from LA to Chicago, 1.5 hrs waiting in Chicago, 7.5 hrs from Chicago to Frankfurt, 5 hours waiting in Frankfurt airport, a late departure from Frankfurt, waiting on the plane about 45 minutes because someone decided they felt sick and didn't want to go to India and their baggage had to be unloaded. Then another 8.5 hours (which I think turned out to be 9 hrs) in the air. That adds up to just over 29 hours of travel time. Not to mention going through customs, collecting my luggage, and the cab ride to the hotel… UGH.

Enough of that. I mainly wanted to recount the sort of stream of thoughts that proceeded through my brain immediately after arriving.

1. I have finally arrived in the land of coconut chutney. It's not the land of milk and honey, but I think I might prefer coconut chutney. Also tomato chutney, and coriander chutney.

2. I have so many visas for India in my passport the guy at the immigration desk can't find the correct one. It's the last page, and as he paged through, I watched his look of consternation to compare the visa number listed on the form with the paper visa in my passport. I knew this would happen. "It's on the last page" I told him in Tamil, and he found it, stamped it, and smiled. He didn't look the least bit surprised that I spoke Tamil, which surprised me. Usually people hear me speak Tamil and are shocked. I'm so used to that response; I get surprised when they're not.

3. More surprises. I only saw one cow in the street on the way to the hotel.

4. The taxi driver drove surprisingly slowly and cautiously. And as I noticed that he wasn't the fastest car on the road, that he was, in fact, not roaring through the city, I wondered if my standards have changed. Would I have thought it was scary, if this was my first trip? Would I have thought he was driving fast or recklessly? It seems that the roads and the driving was very frightening at first. But what used to scare me, and what used to be jarringly different about India is hard to even remember now.

It was (and still kind of is) hard to conceive of the next 12 months of my life here in India. I have a lot I want and need to accomplish. It seems different than so many of my other trips. Longer at one stretch than ever before, but at the same time, I feel so much more able to cope with that.

I'm not dealing with any particular culture shock. The only thing I really have to deal with is jetlag.

I still feel some anxiety and trepidation about how this whole thing will work out. But I also feel pretty confident that it will be a good and productive year. I guess that is how it goes. This is what I signed up for. This is my life. And this funding for a full year is a great opportunity that I'm grateful for.

1 comment:

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

It's interesting when the unfamiliar is suddenly so familiar.

I hope the year starts productively and well.