I know, I know! You’re all itching for some India pics and we have them. Yes, indeedy. 1500 to be exact. Or to round it off. Either way, it’s a lot of friggin photos.
We got back a week ago on January 14th. Or as they say in India the “14th of Jan.” Little things like that always catch my attention. Electricity is “current.” Speed bumps are “speed breakers” and flashlights are “torches.” Pictures me chuckling with delight over these details because I do.
Returning has been…far more difficult than we anticipated. It’s hard to trade palm trees and sunny, blue skies for dreary, rainy January cold. It’s also hard to return to a wee apartment where there is absolutely no space for anything.
Travel, but particularly traveling abroad, gives you such an incredible high. It really is addictive. This world is so big and we are so eager to explore it.
As with all highs, lows invariably follow. We have been and continue to work through those. We haz a sad.
It’s hard to say good-bye to the family, to India, to travel, to vacation. And to return to ….normal: Work. Grocery shopping. Folding clothes. Cat hairballs. Several people at work have commented on how long our trip was. “Wow three weeks!” and “You’ve been gone forever!” I know they mean well; it’s just chit-chat. But Somanna hasn’t seen his family in two years.
Three weeks feels like a weekend. That’s 14 days out of 730 or 0.019%. It’s a blip in the radar.
When we visit India and convene with the family, I am struck by just how far away this family is from one another. And for just how long they’ve been doing this international gig. As someone who grew up in the same town as both sets of grandparents (my grandmother lived next door) and who can still reach her family within a day’s drive, it’s quite literally a foreign concept to me.
India is a humbling experience, on a very real and personal level. I am the racial minority, the one who looks different, sounds different, is different. I listen in on conversations where I don’t always know the full context, where the places are or who the people are. Heck, sometimes I don’t even understand the language. I’m the one clueless about the pop culture / sports/ national politics. All that I can take in stride; I’m quite comfortable observing away and I appreciate the perspective the experience offers me. The challenge of navigating, both physically and socially, a new place.
The most humbling aspect, which I wrestle with in a very real way while there, is the ultimate question. Could I return my husband’s sacrifice, and by default his family’s sacrifice? Could I leave my family, my culture, my food, my ultimate comfort zone and live half way around the world? Could I send a child half way around the world? It would be shameful and dishonest to say that I could answer that question with a resounding “yes.” The truth is…I don’t know. I have doubts and fears as I’m sure Somanna and his family have had and probably occasionally still do. But confronting that question does not make the lesson lost.
I recognize that this is an enormous gift. So to my in laws, sweet Mavi and Mava, and the rest of the family, thank you. To my sweet Somanna, I say thank you. I only hope our visit, albeit brief, in some small, small way honored your gifts.
Because I am so very deeply honored by yours.
You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.
— Desmond Tutu