Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Very Unexpected

This is an article that I wrote for the Studio30Plus web site - a place for writers over 30. Check it out if you love to write and you're over 30.

They told me I wouldn’t like it. They told me I would be back in 6 months. They told me it would be bad for my health, my children, and my marriage. They told me I would be miserable with all of the small discomforts that are built into life where I was going and horribly lonely.  Oh I had been there once before, I knew a little bit of what to expect. However, a visit is never the same as a commitment to stay for a while. With all of this in mind, I steeled myself and set my expectations as low as I could. It probably would be miserable, but after marrying him, going and staying there for a while at some point in our lives was rather non-negotiable. It was an obligation I had signed up for on my wedding day as surely as I had promised to love him forever. Make no mistake, it was voluntary. I decided to make the best of it, even while being scared out of my wits that I would indeed hate it and resent him.

I watched that last rainy New York night pass by me as a friend ferried the kids and I to JFK. I was heartsick with all of the goodbyes and numb with the thought of leaving the only place I had ever considered home. I didn’t cry, but then again, I rarely ever do. Saying goodbye to the last 2 people was the lowest point. It felt so intensely final as we walked through security and around the corner. A wonderful chapter of our lives had ended turning that corner and I couldn’t even bring myself to believe that the next chapter would be as good or better.

The 24 hour trip was a blur of uncomfortable seats and cranky children and spouses.  In essence, all planes and all trips are basically the same. As we emerged blearily into the early morning light in Hyderabad, a small seed of excitement began to grow inside of me. The seductive call of being surrounded by exotic sights, smells, and tastes called flooding into me.  After being immersed in Indian culture for the past 10 years, it felt more like coming home than leaving it. I cook Indian food, have Indian friends, enjoy my Indian inlaws.

It slowly crept up on my husband and me as we settled into life in Bangalore. One day, I turned to him and told him how glad I am that we came to India and we realized how good it has been for both of us and our family. Both of us were rather quiet as we pondered how this had happened. As more time passes, I find myself enjoying India more and more.  All of their words, while well meaning, have absolutely no meaning now. To be sure, home is where you make it and your mindset can make or break an experience.

The joy that I’ve found here was been completely unexpected, but I’m pretty sure that when our time comes to again rip up our roots and move on to our next adventure, India will call to mind the same despair that I felt leaving the US. A piece of me that developed after I married my husband will always have a connection to this place. The very essence of India has ingrained itself in me through this experience and that connection will always be there. Very unexpected indeed.


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