Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Leaving India

My last week in Hyderabad was bittersweet. I was glad to be going home but sad to be leaving everyone that I had come to depend on. I felt like it was the last week of school, and it was hard to think that I might never see some people again.

My last days were spent trying to stuff everything into my suitcases (which didn’t happen because I bought so much stuff that I had to leave a pile for Jitu, the Q4 ambassador to MV to bring with him when he comes in October). Most of the festivities were cancelled because of the bombings, and for a few days we didn’t go out. But, as always in India, after a few days, things calmed down and everyone ventured out again.

I bought the last of the necessary souvenirs and gifts, and spent an hour schmoozing with the owner of Saga to get myself 40% off my cashmere stoles at the fixed price store. He was very amused when he said “I’ll give you a good price” and I said “Asli ki math kya hai? Hindustani math, nahi firangi math” (“What’s the real price? Indian price, not foreigner price”). He laughed and laughed and then tried to teach me more Hindi. He also insisted on making me Kashmiri tea (which I only agreed to drink when I watched them make it with a new bottle of Bisleri mineral water), and I got to try on all of the 40,000 Rs scarves ($1,000).

On my last night a small group went to a bar, and I went home early to get some sleep. I had coffee at Barista with Peter in the afternoon, and lamented the fact that there would be no more evenings of Kingfisher and Seinfeld with my roomies, who were definitely the best roomies I’ve ever had (the fact that we had maid service to clean up our messes didn’t hurt). On my last day I tried to stuff my suitcase closed and watched DVDs of ‘Heroes’ from Bangkok.

Finally, with my suitcases very heavy and barely closed, Sayed took me to the airport and I said Phir milenge to Hyderabad. Check-in and customs was a breeze (I had been stressing for weeks in anticipation of my battle over over-sized baggage fees), and the guy who checked me in recognized me from my trip to Australia and asked me how my project was going (and if I normally wore glasses, since I was wearing glasses the last time I was there).

I sat next to a guy who had never flown before and who couldn’t figure out how to buckle his seatbelt. It was a final glimpse at India, and a reminder that there are places in the world where most adults have never been on an airplane.

When I landed in Singapore, I was excited about eating salad, but was sad to think that I don’t know when I will return to India. I watched Indian couples walking around the airport, and realized that in 3 weeks when my henna is gone, there will be no visible connection between us, they will assume that I don’t have the slightest clue about their culture, and who knows whether I’ll even notice them in America?

Luckily the answer to those last questions has been answered, and so far I have managed to remain connected to my second home – through Padma and Hayley and all the beautiful things I brought back and the photos and the chaat houses – so far I have managed to incorporate India into my American life.

No comments: