If you’ve been reading WU for a few years, you might remember a blog I wrote called Saying No to Say Yes, about my long-held desire to visit India. Please notice the date, which was November 2015, over three years ago.
I finally made it there in January this year. It took me that long to work up the courage to go by myself, because no one wanted to go with me (one friend just couldn’t make it work). I joined a small group foodie tour, but I made my way there on my own, and spent the first two days alone in my Dehli hotel.
It was terrifying. It was exhilarating. Dehli was a slam to the senses, so insanely different from any place I’ve ever been that I reeled with it at first. On the way from the airport, I practically giggled over seeing cows ambling and tuk tuks putting and dogs trotting and brightly painted buses packed to the gills and women walking along in such ordinary ways, each wearing a sari more beautiful than the last.
It was wedding season, so the air was filled with firecrackers, and one night in Jaipur we chanced upon a wedding party dancing down the street with a groom on a horse. We feasted on thalis and learned to make proper chai and…oh, so many things.
I wrote to myself on the way there, “I don’t know what I’m looking for. I don’t know what I’ll find. But I have to do this.”
My personal life has been completely insane with family crisis after family crisis the past three months, and one portion of it exploded the day I was heading to the airport. Everything was packed and I was taking a walk before calling an Uber when I heard the news.
For a long, painful moment, I wondered if I should stay home. My heart ached with the need to be present for everyone else because that’s who I am, Demeter, the nurturer (in case you never guessed).
But no. I decided, made a conscious choice, to put myself and my hunger first. It was entirely for my imagination, for the girls in the basement, for the fifteen-year-old I once was. I knew the crisis would be ongoing and I would be twelve (and a half) hours opposite my family.
In a way, it might have been a relief to claim a family emergency and stay home. By departure day, I was filled with worries of a million varieties—what if I hated it, what if it was awful, what if I hated everyone on the tour, what if, what if, what if….? [Read more…]