Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My last day in India was as unpredictable as every other day had been. The first surprise was that my stomach bug lay dormant for almost the entire day - my starvation technique was working and I was very happy!!
I intended doing some sightseeing but was sidetracked by a long conversation with a fellow Canuk whose last visit to India was in 1967. She had several incredible stories to tell, some of which included her time spent in Vietnam and Afghanistan during each country's war and also many stories about her life spent raising her children in Mexico and growing organic vegetables. She told me tales of hiding Mexicans in her house away from guerrilla's and also of visiting and helping raise thousands of dollars for aid to Guatemala after hurricane Katrina destroyed entire villages.
Very inspirational and I figure that the tourist sights of Delhi can wait for my return.
After comparing experiences for a few hours (her's being far more interesting then anything I have ever experienced - yet) I left to meet my friend Emily at her Kathak dance.
Kathak dance is a classical style of Indian dance and is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I spent s few hours watching Emily and her dance partners prepare for an upcoming performance in Bangalore, then I left to meet Silvia at her apartment.
unfortunately, Silvia wasn't home when I arrived and I needed to get some last minute shopping done before my flight later that night. So I left a quick note and a small gift of thanks at her doorstep and returned to Parhagang for some shopping.
Later that night, my pre arranged taxi ride to the airport came just 20 minutes late (early by Indian standards) and - not surprisingly, consisted of a small black car whose back windows didn't have any glass in them. After a cold, drive across Delhi at super-sonic speed we stopped for gas at and a much needed chat with the driver's buddy's (note sarcasm) before shooting off like a bullet to the airport. Half frozen and windblown, I stepped from the taxi to see an entirely different airport then the one I arrived in a few months earlier. I think Delhi definitely has changed my expectations for things. The first time I arrived in Delhi's airport it seemed overcrowded, rundown and chaotic. This time the airport seemed to have some order to it and (to my deflated standards) a modern sense of charm - there was even free toilet paper in the toilets. To be honest the departures area is much newer and cleaner then the arrivals area - which originally appeared to be one huge dirty, moving mass of screaming people amid hundreds of roaring taxis. Obviously India doesn't care as much about first impressions and more about last impressions.
Anyways, I made it to the airport, got checked in and went to the bar for a farewell drink to India. My last Kingfisher strong for a while (not entirely a bad thing, since Indian beer leaves a few things to be desired).
I left the bar just in time to board my flight.
On an aside, I do have to admit that security at this airport is the best I have seen anywhere. From the door entering the terminal to the line up before the ticket counter, the 3 security gates I past to the 4 people questioning me as I walked through my gate and onto the path leading to the plane - I was thoroughly screened. Maybe it's the whole 'Continental Airlines' touch - but it was s huge step-up from the security with other airlines. Being a bit of a nervous flyer, I was very grateful for the piece of mind it gave me. So claps for Continental!!!
Anyways, boarding the plane I quickly took my seat, got settled just as an elderly Indian couple approached me. After a few minutes of comparing tickets I realize I'm in the wrong seat and move ahead 1 row to my correct seat.
As fate (or it what you will) would have it I sit next to Anil, a sixty-something man who is returning to New York after his daughter's wedding at Udaipur's infamous Lake Palace. We exchange many stories, nervously joke about the fact that our airplane is flying over Afghanistan and Iraq, he buys us a few too many mini-bottles of wine (don't get me started on the fact that Continental doesn't offer free liquor on international flights- thanks Goddess for friends like Anil) and I sleep for the rest of the flight. Anil invites me to spend time with his family in New York my next trip and we exchange the usual emails.
I arrived into New York's Newark airport 30 minutes ahead of schedule and had plenty of time before my next flight to Toronto. I have to admit - I couldn't stop staring at all the white people!! And everything looks new and shiny - it was all very exciting to me and with in moments I was feeling like a kid in a candy store.
I purchased an orange juice and a small bottle of water for nearly $6USD. That's more then I would spend on food in 2 days while in India! Incredible!!
I sat in front of a large flat screen TV to watch CNN and sip my delicious tropicana...mmmm...just like I remembered.
My flight to Toronto took just 1 hour from New York and I arrived a few minutes ahead of my Mom and Bill. The airport was like a ghost town in comparison to Delhi. When I saw my Mom walk towards me I couldn't help myself to start crying.
It was a huge sense of relief to see my my Mom again and know that after so long I am finally home.
On the way from the airport, Mom and Bill surprised me and we stopped off at my sister's office to meet her for a few minutes. It was just as emotional to see her and see how much she's changed. I also got to meet some of my sister's coworkers who told me they have been following my blog for the last couple of years's funny how they knew all about me and seemed just as happy for my return to Canada as my own family but I haven't ever met them.
After 2 years in Asia, it was refreshing to get big hugs from everyone I met. Canadians love to hug...I figure it has something to do with the fact that it's pretty damn cold here most of the time and hugging is a good excuse to generate some extra heat. In contrast, Asians don't like to hug (I'm generalizing of course) and tend to opt for the traditional bow and sometimes a handshake. Even when I left Korea after a year of working with my Korean coworkers, I could feel them stiffen with awkwardness as I grabbed them for a goodbye hug.
So after an all to short reunion with my sister, we let her get back to work and we drove to my Mom's place in Peterborough. It is so wonderful to return home to the sights, smells and people you grew up with. I never want to leave for this long again.
After a hot bath and a long nap with my cat, I had some time to reunite with my Mom and begin telling her about my adventures.
With all the excitement I haven't had an opportunity to miss India yet. I am sure once the novelty of 'western conveniences' wears thin I will miss it more then I do now. But for now I plan on soaking up the comforts of home and enjoying the good life for a while.
India is still a huge part of me. I have seen and experienced things that have changed me and has confirmed to me that my direction in life right now if the right one. I feel at peace with myself and those around me , more then ever before.
I have a better sense of what I want for my future and what's important: family, friends , love and believing in yourself. I always thought I could do most things in my life, but now I am sure of it. Anything is possible for me and I sense big things for my future.
For the next few days I plan to sleep and visiting with my Mom. Her birthday is on Friday and my sister's will be here for the weekend. Then I will travel to Ottawa for a few weeks to spend time with my sister and friends there. I have decided to change my plans for my return to Korea at the end of December. I am not going to move to Busan as I originally planned and instead I am going to return to my old job at Boston Campus in Jukjeon. It makes sense for me to go back to a job that gave me so much happiness and security.
I will keep you updated on my time at home and will be my photos to the website as quickly as keep checking the links.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home