Saturday, January 23, 2010

Are We There Yet?

The Beach at Mamallapuram


The plane to Chennai is mostly full of Indians returning home.  And, they were chatty with each other, very animated. It was hectic on the plane.  At one point, the co-pilot had to come to the back of the craft to find a flight attendant.  It was that busy.  If course, I was distracted by the massage I was getting on my kidneys.  The three year old had been relentlessly kicking the back of my seat for three hours.  Non-stop steward calls, non-stop movement, demands, questions.  And, I had this feeling of being stared at.  Maybe I stuck out.  It reminded me of the way I used to feel when I was living in Indonesia:  not being able to go anywhere, a store, even sit on the front steps of my gated home without someone seeing, knowing, and even more amazingly, telling me about what I did the next day at work. There was no need to keep a journal there, everyone else was doing it for me. After a while in Indonesia, I felt hampered by this as it is so very different from America.  I think India may be very similar – and there is good and bad in that. 

But, I could feel my body say, “Oh yeah.  This again.”  Of course, I did read in the cultural guide that Indians have no word for privacy.  It doesn’t exist in their language.  

And the anxiety builds in my body, and suddenly I remember my Yoga Teacher Training, and I remember Grace and MyLinda saying, “Come each day with a beginner mind.  Everyday.”  And  I know I must do this in order to survive in this richly diverse land.  

And, I’m scared. 


I get a taxi when I land in Chennai and head to Mamallapuram – my first destination.  I get to the guesthouse around 3 in the morning, after driving past cows, piles of trash, and the local theme park, Dizzee World.  There is no towel, no soap, no trash can, no blanket, no toilet paper.  It’s humid. The air conditioner doesn’t work, and the sheet on the bed is questionable. 

I can not sleep.  Finally, it’s morning.  I wake.  I shower.  The water trickles out.  It’s cold.  Flashback to Indonesia.  However, instead of standing there and crying and then deciding to bathe with a wet wipe as I did then, I simply say out loud, “You are going to do this.  It’s just cold water.”  I did it.  I am clean.  Relatively. 

Digging clothes out of my backpack.  What the hell have I done?  What am I doing here?  I want to crawl back in the bed and just lie there.  For a long time.  I want to go home. 

There is a knock at the door.  The person who runs the guesthouse is standing there with a towel, a clean sheet, a roll of toilet paper, and a bar of soap.  “You booked with A/C, right?” he asks.  “Yes,” I say.  “So sorry.  I will turn on now.  You got put in wrong room.  I lower price for last night.  How long you stay?”  Ah, hope is peaking through.  “Not sure,” I say.  “Maybe four, five days.”  I really don’t know, and I have no clue where I am headed next.  I’m just waiting for that idea to magically appear, waiting to be guided.  “Ok,” he says.  “Just pay when you leave.” 

I trundle out the door and directly to an Internet café.  I let my friends and family know that I have arrived safely.  I bought a coke.  I still want to go back to bed. I’m not tired.  I’m deflated.  My confidence has left me stranded.  My strength hiding.  I reach deep inside.  I find a bit of will.  I blaze off down the street.  Just walking.  Just looking.  And the streets are littered with shops, selling statues, tunics, anything kitchy you need.  I don’t need this stuff.  I’m not looking for things.  The haunting line, “What am I doing here?” comes again.  But this time, it was followed by an answer, “You are redirecting yourself.  You are repurposing your life.  You left your life because it was not fulfilling to you.  There is no person responsible for this, no one to blame, no one reason other than you want more out of life. Now, go find the beach.  And I did.


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