India: Somebody get me a Walkman...

...because I have an old Boyz II Men cassette tape that needs to be played.  I'm thinking, "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," is most appropriate.

Maybe not.  That would swing things on the "sap" pendulum way too far.

But seriously, as I type from the confines of the United Club at Newark Airport, I will confess that leaving Mumbai this time around was hard.  Really hard.  I cried no fewer than five times on my last day in Mumbai and one of those teary moments came while I was running on Marine Drive.  Crying while running!  Who does that?  Thank goodness I was sweating enough for all that saltwater to blend together and not give me away.  :)

Forgive the stream of consciousness that is about to unfold but I get the sense that you guys like hearing both the good and bad, the agony and the ecstasy of business travel, so I'll stay true to that.

I didn't want to go on this trip.  I tried to get out of it up until the very last minute.  The morning I left, I took my first architect registration exam.  Do you realize what that meant?  It meant I would rather sit through a standardized exam in a windowless room if it allowed me to (mentally) postpone my departure to India.

Then I got to Mumbai and saw some familiar faces.  I still wasn't jazzed about being there because I was fully preparing myself for seven weeks of just trying to get by, doing my thing, and doing it all by myself.  I knew it could be a very lonely, though fulfilling, seven weeks.

In what would later prove to be some ironic foreshadowing, recall that I wrote in a couple of early posts that I am slow to warm up to people.  That hasn't changed.  For some reason, though, I gave in on this trip.  I decided to let go and warm up.  I gave in at the hotel, I gave in at work, I gave in everywhere.  And it was so, so fun.

What wasn't fun was saying goodbye.  It's tough to say goodbye to people, even at the basic level of displaying common courtesy, right?  Nobody wants to be on the receiving end of a curt, "Peace out!" so you best put some genuine emotion into your departure.  But I've found it was really difficult this time around because there were many competing emotions.  Should I say goodbye to India for good, since I don't know if/when I'll return?  I need closure on things and there was no closure to be had, anywhere, dammit!  Why am I so sad about leaving India when leaving means returning home to my real life?  Wait, what is my real life at this point?  If I recognize that I've changed in some ways does that mean others will not recognize me because of said changes?

(I told you, stream of consciousness.)

All this erosion of barriers has me feeling vulnerable in ways I tend to shy away from.  It's a paradoxical state of mind when you spend your day on stage, exuding confidence and autonomy to lead your team, only to then have to ask for help when it comes time to do something as simple as feed yourself.  Eventually this dual-existence will catch up with you.

Just to give you an idea of how this caught up with me, I went to bid adieu to Brian, a restaurant manager who crafted my special menu.  I told him, "Thanks for taking such good care of me," to which he replied, "Thanks for letting us take care of you."  Kids, I lost it.  A bawling mess of tears and suitcases right in the Trident lobby.  You've probably discerned from many of my posts that India has been tough on independent me because I don't naturally "let" people take care of me.  Yet Brian was right; I had let them take care of me and am so grateful for it, exposed nerves and all.

This is the good, bad, and ugly of leaving your spouse, family, home, and office behind in pursuit of new experiences that will hopefully pay off in the end, not only for you but for all those other people left in your wake.

The question of the day yesterday was, "So, when will you return?"  There is no answer to that question as of yet.  So, in classic Indian fashion, we'll pick up on this story again, "in just two minutes."   Until then!


Gorgeous Things said...

It sounds like this trip was a wonderful life experience for you. It's totally understandable that you were sad to leave. But it will always be in your mind (and heart?), so that can be some consolation.

Welcome home!

SEWN said...

I have really enjoyed your India posts. I will miss them now that you are home, I almost feel like I was with you on your trips. Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

Where are you? I've enjoyed reading about your travels (totally trawled your archives) and then noticed your last post is from a while back-are you still blogging? Sewing? etc? XD See you around and thanks for sharing all the adventures.


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