My visa was approved and I am moving ahead with plans for my return to India.
I plan to arrive in Mumbai on 14 October to visit my friend, recover from jet lag, and remind myself that, well, I'm truly back in India.
There are so many differences, both subtle and direct, and it will require shifting mental and emotional gears.
It doesn't happen over night.
I plan to spend about a week there before flying to Delhi. Last visit I did not spend any time in the city. This go round I'm thinking I'll spend a few days in Majnu ka Tila, the Delhi Tibetan colony. Something different. A more in depth view of exile life in India. Hoping it will lead to new contacts, new knowledge, eventually new material.
I aim to catch the bus from MT up to McleodGanj at the start of the following week.
In all honesty, I can no longer remember what it was like, there. The feeling has left me. I am both eager and excited, but I am also nervous. I cannot really pick up where I left off. I will have different priorities, this trip. When I arrived last autumn, I was not looking for the specific things I am this trip.
This time, my goal is to find a Tibetan language tutor, and also someone who can guide me on the Buddhist path. Yes, I will still teach English conversation, but not at the same place...maybe only as a private tutor.
Mainly, I am looking for more details on the situation of Tibet in exile. I want to get a better feel for the views of the community regarding the future.
And, of course, I am hoping to further explore the interpersonal relationships which developed and meant so much to me.
One way or another, this trip will determine the course of the rest of my life.
After India, next spring I intend to spend 2-3 months in Nepal. Beyond that, nothing "concrete"...I would love to spend some time in Ladakh, maybe more time in MT, maybe back to Mclo...maybe something as yet unforeseen.
Over the coming week I'll be putting more effort into organizing what still remains to be done on the Everyday Exile project, which is still very much in planning stage.
To be honest, with less than 5 weeks til planned departure, I realize slowly slowly how much remains to be done. I've been in a holding pattern regarding planning, organizing, pre-trip shopping, and of course packing.
I really need to sit and breathe and figure out exactly what still needs to be done.
And then start doing.