A fellow blogger is heading to India with her husband to meet his relatives and visit his homeland in a few weeks. We were chatting about the anxieties surrounding such a trip and I thought I’d spend a few posts sharing my thoughts. I have a midterm tomorrow so I’ve set the timer–can I write a whole post in 20 minutes?!*
Things I’ve felt when journeying within India…
The first time I went to India, Varun and I got engaged. I was young and head over heels in love and blissfully ignorant. While our trip was exciting, invigorating, amazing, entertaining and well-worth it, there were times when I felt isolated and sad. Being unable to speak the language made me feel stupid, incompetent and embarrassed. Being unsure and obviously out of place made me feel shy and self-conscious. I grew tired of people staring at me and inwardly wondered why people couldn’t just act like me.
At the same time, being welcomed heartily by my new family and accepting gifts and chai and hugs and smiles from strangers made me feel loved and accepted. I felt humbled knowing that people loved me not because they could understand me or talk with me, but because Varun loved me and that was enough for them. I felt cherished and protected by Varun, his sister and his parents as they showed me new sites, dressed me in local clothes and enveloped me with warmth, caring and laughter.
On later trips, India has had the faint echo of home. The cacophony of honking traffic and aggressive vendors invokes in me feelings of familiarity and joy. As I’ve rejoined the 1.2 billion people that make up the mosaic of India, I feel apprehensive and excited; I long to be accepted and yet…I deeply fear it.
When I observe Varun bargaining wildly with a rickshaw driver or chatting with relatives I feel relaxed knowing that he is where he belongs. At the same time, I feel tense to see his ease contrasted with my dis-ease, to see his quick laughter and familiarity in settings that perplex me. Wonder and confusion and curiosity flood my heart to see the man I love in a place so foreign to me; yet it’s the place that reverberates with many of the songs and colors and ideas that endear Varun to me.
*Nope, couldn’t do it. It took 27 minutes. Oh well. If I do poorly on my exam, at least I’ll have something to blame…