So here I am, back at "home" (a tiny speck of an island in the East China Sea). Funny that Japan is "home" to me now. And, ironically, only for about 4 months longer. After India, I was exhausted, dirty, beaten down. Osaka airport was a clean, disinfected pillow on which to rest my dreary head. The first chance to give my hands a thorough washing in two months.
I arrived in Delhi at 5 am from Jaipur, not having slept. Like I had done after many middle of the night train station arrivals, I sat down amidst the sleeping bodies and rats and waited for day to break so I would feel comfortable enough to venture out to the rickshaw drivers. I did have a bit of fun with the lookie-loos while I waited though. I must have been delirious from lack of sleep, but I started combating the stares with cross-eyes, tongue tricks, and other childish antics. After months of politely lowering my head and accepting the somewhat violating stares, I'd had enough. I should have done that weeks ago, because it worked, no one dared stare at me after that! They even moved a few feet farther away. Ah, peace.
After aimlessly walking around a freezing Delhi all day, just waiting to leave, I made it to the Delhi airport, which was a madhouse (what were you expecting? Order? Lines? HA!) Our 10:00pm departure time kept getting pushed back - first 2 hours, then 3, then 5, then 7. They kept moving us from gate to gate. But here's the kicker, the Air India people would only tell one or two of the passengers. There was no announcement, no flashing marquis. Only if we were paying attention would we know to move. So, TWICE I woke up wondering why I was the only one sitting at my gate. Then I'd run frantically through the airport looking for the group of Japanese tourists who were also presumably Osaka-bound.
After about 50 hours of sleepless travel, I finally made it home.
I want to thank all of you who actually read this blog throughout my trip. I can count on one hand those who were really concerned about my whereabouts. And that's okay. This blog was really for me a place to make light of the loneliness I felt. The hardships to joke about. To make it all seem like an adventure was just a "Bollywood Movie" that would hopefully be over by the time the popcorn ran out. The trip for me was always a challenge of sorts. The "your-husband-is-off-serving-his-country-what-are-you-doing-with-your-life?" challenge. And I made it home alive, and I have to say, a better woman for it.
So what have I learned in the past 60 days?
- A rickshaw ride should never cost more than 50 rupees and negotiate the price up front. Don't be afraid to jump out and refuse to pay if they take you to somewhere you don't want to go.
- Never say it's your first time in India. Never walk through the market place with a bewildered look. March straight - let the oncoming foot traffic jump out of the way (or hoof traffic, as the case may be). The only way to fit in in India is fake it till you make it.
- I've become an unabashed pilferer of toilet paper. I've been finding it everywhere - in my pockets, in my purses. I will never again be caught without it.
- All the material possessions that I need in this world can fit into one backpack. Not sure if this is really true, but it worked for 2 months! Not once did I think "golly, I really wish I'd brought more crap along with me." As a matter of fact, I would have been happy to leave half of it by the roadside.
- From the hour I was leaving Delhi for the airport, I had this urge to run out on the street, and drink chai with whomever I could find. I miss the closeness of the people on the street. The Delhi Dance. The human interactions that have been bred out of our culture. Try as you might, you are never alone in India.
Ironically, the day I got home, I seemed to have contracted some food poisoning of sorts. Ha! I think I probably was on the way to being sick in India, but my body was like, "Oh hellz no you are NOT getting sick in this country." I'm more than happy to roll around in pain in the comfort of my own bed.
John gets home in mere weeks! Then we've got 4 months to take Okinawa by storm. Adventures to come.