Monday, November 19, 2007

A Substantive Blog Post

"A substantive blog post."

That's what I wrote on my to-do list today, along with "clean out closets" and several spring-semester-related items. So far everything's been done except the closets.

I've been back in the U.S. for four days now. At my parents' house, temporarily, for Thanksgiving week. My mother was concerned that she would need to put me in bed for several days to detox me from all the pollution, etc. that I encountered on my travels, but a day or two of sleep and fresh fruit seemed to do the trick. As to the jet lag, I recovered very quickly -- mostly because I possess the theatre artist's capability of suspending disbelief, and was able to look at my watch and say "oh, it is 11 a.m.," and never doubt otherwise.

To the commenter who left this note: thank you. ^__^

While I was in India, several people asked me about my "spirit of adventure," as the anon commenter described it, and why I seemed so excited to do crazy-ass things like travel the entire length of India on a train.

I told them that this was, in effect, my holiday; and probably the only one I would have for a very long time. (This necessitated an explanation of American vacation days, or lack thereof -- followed of course by a segue into American sick- and maternity-leave policies. Suffice to say that my Indian audience was always shocked.)

Now that it's done, I find my mind pushing me forward, almost frantically, towards the next step. Which is, at the moment, getting my academic life in order and getting my temp work lined up. (Like an insomniac counting hours, I find myself thinking "if the temp job comes through by next Monday, then I will make $$$$, but if it doesn't come through until Wednesday then I will only make $$$...")

And after those two pegs are in place, of course, comes the even more daunting task of landing the real job. You know, the one that's supposed to come after the degree.

What I hope most, and I will continue to write about this over the next few months, is that I will be able to keep this sense of assertiveness that I acquired in India. I learned quickly that I had to be very specific and very direct if I wanted anything; I gave up trying to please people in the name of trying to get what I needed. I learned how to haggle with auto drivers and salespeople; more importantly, I learned how to walk away from them. In Amritsar, I checked out of a hotel without looking back, after the manager took me into his office under the guise of looking up cinema listings and then began showing me his porn collection (never told you that story); on the way to Delhi I enlisted the police to remove a young man who had been stalking me for a few days (never told you that story, either).

I don't want to lose the person I became in India; the person who "survived the Punjab" and made it through solo, unscathed, through breakfast weevils and Sleeper II trains and getting lost time after time after time, standing alone in the middle of Dworka-who-knows-where with nothing but a highway stretching in either direction (never told you... you get the idea), but who has her wits about her and is able to wrap her dupatta around her head to shade her face and walk alongside the traffic until she finds buildings again.

In theory I shouldn't be afraid of anything anymore. But in practice I am a five-foot-two young woman who still gets nervous about making people (employers, professors, etc.) happy.

We will see what happens. For other people who have made the trip (Susan, I'm thinking of you), how did you feel when you returned? Were you able to keep that sense of adventure with you?

For now, the scent of India still remains with me. Mostly because my perfume bottle broke en route, and the attar leaked into everything in my cosmetics bag. ^__^

7 comments:

Daniel said...

WELCOME BACK! :) When's the next trip to NYC?

Vishnu said...

I am surprised that inspite of all the bitter experiences you had like the cinema collection incident, robbery and stalking you liked the Indian experience. To tell you the truth experience for girls in INDIA isn't so good at all.
Have a look at this webpage: http://www.blanknoiseproject.blogspot.com/
you will understand what it is like to be born a girl in INDIA.
And last but not the least a HUGE thanks to you for maintaining a positive outlook abt your experience in INDIA and writing positively abt it on your blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow, good question - I've been thinking about it but don't have much of an answer. And I would have had even less of an answer so soon after getting back. I think I remember writing to you shortly after I came home to say that I didn't have any idea what was going on anymore. Or if that's not exactly what I said, that's what I meant. :)

Anyway, without rambling too much -- I had a much more cautious stay than you did, with no solo travel, so in the end it had sort of the opposite effect. India was less about adventure and more about each day just being unpredictable and inexplicable. So for the most part I'd say I take things a little less seriously now, and see things with more patience.

Welcome back - and a very happy Thanksgiving! I'm looking forward to the next phase of blogging. :)

Blue said...

Vishnu: Sorry I didn't respond earlier. I know a lot of my travel experience was "rough," and many things made me uncomfortable, but that doesn't mean I had the time of my life -- and I do mean that phrase literally! "Enjoyed" isn't the best word for all of my experiences, but I certainly learned from everything, and was never, ever bored. For me, that's huge.

Daniel: When you invite me. ^__^

Anon: We should talk IRL, don't you think? Just saw your LJ. Will call soon. ^__^

Indigo B. said...

I really enjoyed your honest blogs about life in India.

Also, that's great that you've recognized the changes in you and I wish you luck in holding her with you! I think this is the most fabulous thing you've done for yourself and your future.

BTW, we used to say "You have the USA. And, then you have the Real World."

Don't you feel like you've seen the real world now? :-)

Thambi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue said...

Sorry -- the whole "surviving the Punjab" thing is a joke, and meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek.

I think I make it a little more clear in the original "I survived the Punjab" post, and should have made it more clear that I was joking in this post as well. ^__^