I arrived back in Mumbai on the night of 2 March. Arriving at the airport, a phone call from my friend notified me he was not coming to the airport to meet me as expected.
I was disappointed, but not bent out of shape or terrified as I would have been had this happened 4 months ago.
So I collected my bags and decided to check out a pre-paid taxi.
300 rupees later, I clutched my receipt and navigated the queue out front without a lot of difficulty. It took what felt like forever to get out of the airport car park but at last we were whipping through the Mumbai night.
What struck me most as we rolled at a decent speed through the city was that...it did not seem as strange or crazy or frightening as it all had when I landed at the airport the first time, arriving from the USA in late October 2009.
In fact, it seemed pretty average. I can't believe I just wrote that!
I kept track of location by reading bank branch signs... Had my friend called to ask, I wanted to say, in my twisted humor, "I'm at the corner of Amitab Baichan and Shah Rukh Khan" (two Bollywood megastars whose faces are EVERYWHERE on billboards as well as tv and film). HAHAHA
Shops and temples sailed by...
Then I saw the Breach Candy bank branch and knew we were getting close. As we veered off to the right, I suddenly actually recognized the neighborhood.
I was able to give the taxi driver exact directions from there...although it was more gesturing as my Hindi and his English were pretty much equal at...virtually none.
India India India.
Hard to explain the mindset I've been in ever since getting back. The apartment here is posh, in India terms. I took the longest hot shower I'd had since I could remember. I slept with a sheet under a ceiling fan instead of two blankets and a space heater. I ate Domino's pizza and drank white wine and laughed over how much I've changed.
I do not feel threatened by the curious stares, anymore. In fact, there don't even seem to BE any curious stares. Maybe I have just learned to look past them?
Today we went to the grocery...the same grocery which seemed dangerous and complicated during my first week here. It was...routine. Absolutely normal.
I have said it before and I will say it again.
My life will never be the same.
I have cried, but not a lot. Mainly when I get an email or a facebook chat or a phone call from someone in Mcleod. I miss them more than anything but I am somehow applying the lessons of acceptance and letting go that I learned there.
Life is good. Everything is as it should be.
I am focusing on life NOW. On working on projects both online and off which will help get me back to my heart's home in the Himalayas quickly.
My goal is to be back and teaching English conversation to the Tibetan refugees again before October...hopefully by late August.
Please check out the links below to see what I am working on:
Tibet in Exile
Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Wheels
Support for Tibet
As all my work in McleodGanj is self-funded and completely voluntary, I appreciate anyone who would like to make a donation to contact me for my PayPal information!