This morning we will leave for the airport and say goodbye to India.
Although we were able to sleep in until 10am today, my eyes still peered open by 8:00. We adopted a very specific lifestyle here in the last couple weeks. Wake up early, find time in the afternoon to nap and stay up late finishing up with project work. Last night, beyond staying up getting more henna, I packed my things, trying my best to fit the clothes, journals and gifts I hadn’t planned on buying into my pack.
This trip has been amazing and I haven’t yet accepted that we’re leaving. Yesterday we lost two members of the team, Megan and T’mikah, and this morning we’ll part ways with Liza. The group slowly dissipating only vaguely reminds me of the coming separation from India. I’m still in a daze. I guess we’re all exhausted from the last few nights of finalizing our projects, so general consciousness is difficult to hold onto.
I’m noticing all the last things that will happen in the next little while towards the airport. Last breakfast at the hotel with rice pancakes, samba and coconut chutney. Last time I gather my sink washed clothes hung around the bathroom the night before. Last morning that we scrounge for paper wifi codes fallen under the couch, lost within the mess of our living room.
Last time Raksha ushers us into the bus with her foghorn call: “Let’s goooo.”
We throw everything into the back of the van and pack into the bus.
It was always enjoyable to sit in the bus and watch the streets pass us by. This time was especially nice. Faint with exhaustion and disbelief of departure, we stared out the windows, some slept or listened to music and it was overall a serene ride. For one last time I soak in the colours of the buildings, the vegetation and the baurs and birds we pass by on our way to the airport.
Here comes our last airport adventure.
As it comes time to board the flight, Genevieve, Jake, Maddy, Melih, Michael and I say our goodbyes to Sarah. Once again we are on our own. I am extremely thankful that this program was put into place and it’s feeling more and more real that we were are now splitting up from the close knit group we had formed over our time in India.
Landing in New Delhi, Genevieve leaves us to begin her own journey of travelling India. The rest of us prepare for a 30 hour flight journey home. Before coming to India I wanted to instill a less stressed mentality about things. Our culture seems to be rushed the majority of the time and I easily fall into this busy lifestyle. Instead I’ve wanted to become comfortable sitting and being without letting my mind run towards what to do next, what to accomplish next. India helped reinforce this state of mind. The airplane journeys definitely helped reinforce this idea – slow down, allow for boredom to pass by, but be able to enjoy being present without having to be constantly stimulated.
We were all warned about the culture shock when going to India, but I never thought about the potential culture shock coming back to Canada. It’s been such an immersive experience that I’m not sure how to immerse myself back into my former life. Something I do expect is a more critical perspective of the way I live in Toronto.
On the airplane, I give the newspaper a good look, expecting it to be the last Indian newspaper I’ll read for a while. It’s clear to me that I’m going to miss a lot of things about India, newspaper articles are definitely in that list.
With a 10 hour layover in Delhi, Maddy, Melih, Michael, Jake and I count down the hours by playing cards, enjoying a cappuccino and chocolate muffin deal and exploring different shops. I’m finding that time passes more quickly than you would think.
We stayed in one store for quite some time, listening to their live music band, looking at the memento merchandise and sitting with our feet in a pool of water. A very commercial view of India, but quite the calming stop for an airport.
This is also where Maddy realized that it was her birthday! And so began her 33 and a half hour birthday across three different continents and time zones.
I feel very lucky to have joined this group and had the opportunity to go to India. We’ve seen so many new ways of life and it only makes me want to learn more about the world.
You can build an idea of a country, you can read books or articles about a culture and hear about people’s lifestyles second hand, but it is so different to step into a space and walk within a culture. I am so glad that we were able to see what we did of India. One of the most important things I’ve left with is the understanding that I will never have a full understanding of India, or any country for that matter. This isn’t a disappointment and it’s in no way discouraging. I think it’s rather humbling and exciting to understand that the world is so vast that there will always be more mystery to explore.