It's only been three weeks since the game in Delhi. Why does it feel longer? The calm after the trip has been a restless one, fraught with anxiety over the next stint. I stare at the calender, calculating dates, planning budgets, looking at maps, and then recalling a sister's wedding or a relocation and starting from zero again. My nights and days are spent dreaming of shawls and steam engines and a hot drink on a verandah on a December morning in Kashmir. There are stories out there, not where you are, my imagination tells me. This is a lie, of course, but I'm happy to listen.
My smiles to no one attract attention from everyone as I mentally plot an unsteady line across India, imagining the train's path, the fleeting villages and people of every colour and accent. There is some detachment from reality here, because the trains run on time, these people of varying colours and accents are always amicable, and the village huts are almost always made of straw. In other words, I need to see more.
"You need to see more," a friend said quite some time ago, nodding her head sagely. Well-travelled, lucid, and often too worldly for her own good, she suggested travel as a method of learning more about India. I was fresh off the boat then and bathed in the particular clueless self-assurance that afflicts many college grads from America. Travel? Pshaw. "Sure," or something like it, I said. It's been a while since then and India has been calling. I'm not sure how I'll answer, but it's calling, and the calls have been ringing loud for some time.
Something has been shifting steadily: an understanding of my own life and place in the world. There's nothing extraordinary about it, for I guess everyone has their silent but monumental moments. India has a lot to do with mine. It has few laws and yet it survives and grows. It throws up and swallows crises everyday. It does this, it does that; nothing surprises you, everything could horrify you. This utter chaos is appealing because it is, in a sense, like each of us. Understand me and you will understand yourself, it says.
So I'm wondering how I got here. Sometimes it feels, rather romantically, like predestination. At other times, it's like waking up groggy one morning in Vegas and finding yourself married to Britney Spears. I love it, but it leaves me and a few others I know utterly helpless. What to do then? Fight it out? Or throw yourself into it and see what it makes of you, like it has done to countless others before?