In less than four hours I will be heading to the airport top come home. In case you have ever wondered, I believe it takes only slightly over 2 weeks to become acclimated to a location and start to feel like you’ve settled into a groove because that is how I feel right now. I feel like I have settled into a routine or a way of living and now I have to uproot myself again. I have some pretty powerful experiences I am taking back to reality with me.
Never again will I complain about bad traffic because now I have a better understanding of what bad traffic really means. I will have to get used to cars staying in their lanes and motorcycles not zipping in between cars on the road. I will have to get used to the driver being on the left side of the car and driving on the right side of the road again.
Never again will I be able to easily dismiss someone begging on the street. I don’t know if that person is legitimately hungry or not. There were times I had to ignore people here for safety reasons — theirs and mine. But when there are kids at my car window asking for food, that can’t be ignored. Or forgotten.
Never again will I take the comforts of my home or country for granted. I have seen the way people live in this country — the very wealthy (like the 27-story home of Mukesh Ambani, the CEO of Reliance Industries), the professionals (like my father), the working class (like Ahmed), the very poor (like the slums we have driven through), and the homeless (like the people going to the bathroom and sleeping on the sidewalks). The social spectrum here is mind-boggling. I wonder how odd it must be for Ahmed sometimes to spend his days working in one social world and living in a very different social world.
Speaking of Ahmed, I find it bizarre that I have seen this man nearly every day for the past two weeks, actually spent quite a bit of time with him as he has driven us so many places, and after today, it is likely I will never see him again. It is so strange to form a relationship with someone just to have it end so cleanly.
Jim told me last night that I would be sad to leave. And he is right. It’s not just sad to leave my father; I have worried about him being lonely every day he has been here, and I will worry about it even more now that we are all up and leaving him. But I will be sad because I feel like part of this country is in me now, like I have found my place a little bit here, found a niche that I could be comfortable in. And chances are I will never come back to this little niche of mine in the world again. This was a trip of a lifetimes, one I didn’t even know I wanted to take until I got here. And now I have to leave it behind.
Goodbye, and thank you, Mumbai, for teaching me so much about this world I live in. I understand so much more than I did before.
Never agin will I be able to ignore the fact that there are homeless and neglected animals in this part of the world. Going with Brenda to give dogs on the street food and treats made me feel good and sad at the same time. It was so little we did for those pups. Friends of my dad who adopted an Indian street dog told us that when animal aid groups pick the dogs up to spay/neuter them and give them their shots, they hold on to the dogs for a short time to see if they get adopted. If not, they take the dogs back to where they were picked up and release them there. It’s easier for the dogs to be released back to an area they are familiar with. I have been wrestling with this since I heard about it. Which is more humane — the way they do this in Mumbai, releasing the dog back to the streets, or the way we do it, euthanizing the dog? Which is the lesser of two evils?