One week ago, I enjoyed my last day in Bombay. I slept in, completed my packing with S’s help (true wizard!), had a divine lunch made by S consisting of shrimp dumplings, chicken dhansak, and patra ni machchi (in my eagerness to devour the meal, I even forgot to take a photo! ), took a nap, and then had yet another feast at H Mavshi’s, with chicken cutlets, kothimbir vadi, prawn curry, eggplant, bhindi, and more! I said my good-byes over the phone and in person, feeling sad to leave this parallel universe of loving relatives that I rarely get to see; and then G, S, and O dropped me to the airport. I went to the counter to check in my bags, and the airline rep told me that one of my bags was too heavy and I would have to pay an extra 3500 rupees. I asked how overweight it was exactly, and she said it was over by 8-9 kilos. What the what? Did I accidentally pack a child in there or something? Anyway, so I paid the 3500 rupees, and from there, completed the international multi-step check-in process which apparently really does take three hours, and passed out on the plane.
I did not face any type of culture shock or adjustment issue in returning home. I suppose that would have been kind of dramatic given that I was only gone for one month. I was happy to see my parents when they picked me up at the airport and then also see my sister and brother-in-law on the way back to my parents’ place, where I spent the next two nights. Unpacking from domestic flights is always such a drag — but unpacking from the UK and India was so exciting! I eagerly removed all contents while reminiscing on my previous month, and spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, eating, and watching Zee TV serials and and Vicky Donor (so good!) with my parents. I came back to Oakland Sunday night, ready to get back to work starting the next day.
This India trip was such a different experience than all my previous ones. Here are just a few reasons why:
– It was my first time going alone. Most previous trips have been with my parents and sister, and the last one was with just my parents. It’s fun to go as a family, and there is definitely more excitement building up to boarding the plane and waiting to meet everyone. But there are also some limitations to this process, where I by default just accompany my parents in their itinerary of meeting people and going shopping or whatever. This time I got to be proactive in making plans and forging direct relations with peeps.
– It was also my first time not going by Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines is way more fabulous than British Airways — but the London stopover was pretty great both for the relatively short flight times and for being able to chill in the UK and see my family there!
– On previous trips, my cousins around the same age bracket had been busy with exams or studying/working abroad or whatever, but now we had more freedom and flexibility to make plans together. Of course, I did not get to see enough people enough times, but I will be back, and they better be coming here to visit too!
– Technology these days is the bomb. Whenever I had Wifi, I could use my smartphone to look up directions or book tickets or contact people on Viber/Whatsapp or arrange tweet-ups or check in on Foursquare (and become the mayor of not one, but two hotels, mmm hm!) — and M was kind enough to lend me her local phone so I could constantly text and call people to make plans.
– As alluded to earlier, I now eat meat, unlike my previous two trips. I was twelve years old last time I was in India and unrestricted, and my gluttony had not yet fully evolved. I really enjoyed my food this time.
– Despite my relatively newfound abandonment of dietary inhibitions, I apparently weighed a million pounds more last time I was in India. I had no idea the difference was so drastic, but several people complimented me in essence with: “You used to be such a fat-ass!”
– Although the roads and honking behavior are as crazy as ever, I feel like the general behavior of people in lines and at airports and in public spaces is more polite. I remember last time feeling like people would constantly push and shove and not give any space, but I rarely had that feeling this time.
So, now it’s back to canned food and immigration petitions!