I arrived back in India not quite 36 hours ago. I'd only been gone seven and a half months, but it felt like it's been years. In many ways, it felt like coming home, like my life has been on hold for this.
Oh yes, there are still things that boggle my mind about the place. I can barely make my most basic needs known in Hindi. I haven't a clue about the rituals and meanings of Hindu festivals. I still shake my head at the vast differences between life here and in the States (and probably always will).
Jet lag does not seem to be as severe this time. The worst of it so far has been sleeping several hours in the afternoon, a headache in mid-evening, and waking this morning at 2:30am without being able to go back to sleep. Compared to my constant aches and nausea of my first week in country last year, I'm feeling fabulous.
Although I am not terrified of the strangers and strangeness of much of Mumbai this time, I still have no real desire to wander around the city. My budget is extremely limited. There are internet contacts I've made here who I'd love to visit, but even getting to their side of town from where I stay would cost more than my weekly budget allows.
My greatest plan is to return to Leopold Cafe, possibly tomorrow, and hopefully meet a friend from McleodGanj there who is now studying in Mumbai.
My time in Mumbai allows me to regain a feel for things and let my body adjust to being on the other side of the world.
I head for Delhi 5 days from now, staying in Majnu ka Tila Tibetan colony for a few days. It will be an entirely new experience.
After that, I'll catch the overnight bus to my Himalayan home of McleodGanj. Things will be very different, this time. I have a new project, a new mission, a totally new agenda. I come armed with a lot more knowledge.
I look forward to learning so much more about the culture, languages, history and way of life of the region.
It will be interesting to see how things unfold this time, and where the journey takes me.