Tuesday, June 20, 2006

One Last Goodbye

The time has come for the final farewell—it’s time to say goodbye to India. As I post this, I am waiting for the taxis to come and take me to the airport and at this time tomorrow I’ll be back in Sycamore.

There are certainly things about this country that I will not miss—molding clothing, the smell of the Bazaar, rodent-infested living quarters, deranged drivers, and gigantic spiders among other things. But there are many more things that I will miss very much when I leave this place.

I will miss my walk to school every morning, stomping along the path, enjoying the breeze and keeping my eyes peeled for pine martens and langurs. And waking up on a Saturday morning and hearing the rain drumming on the corrugated metal roof, knowing that I don’t have to go anywhere today.

I will miss the colors of India, the bright greens of the trees, the purples and pinks and reds and yellows of the mountain flowers, the bewildering array of patterns, designs and hues of the saris and salwar kameez that decorate the bazaar. And I will miss my snowy mountains, and popping outside in the morning to see if they’re visible through the clouds, greeting them like old friends if they are. I will miss lying in the grass outside Mt. Hermon, listening to the sounds of children chattering in Hindi at the employee house below ours.

I will miss my Woodstock family, especially Joanna—my kindred spirit this year in a place often defined by its overwhelming strangeness.

I will miss “ji,” that wonderful respectful title—somehow so much more natural to me than “sir” or “ma’am” ever could be. And I will miss the graceful physical greeting (and leave-taking)—palms together and uplifted, head tilted in a slight bow of acknowledgement. “Namaste!” I will miss Bollywood movies and Bangra dance parties.

I will miss the donkeys with their bells, trotting up and down the mountainside burdened with bricks, or cement, or milk jugs. I will miss the clanking of cowbells. I will miss looking up at the stars--so incredibly bright and amazingly close on those Himalayan nights. And looking out over the Doon Valley, twinkling lights spreading out into the darkness until they disappear into the foothills.

I will miss riding on the back of a motorcycle, hair blowing in the wind, recklessly denying the danger inherent in the ride. I will miss my yoga classes—the stretching, the breathing, the “relax your spleen.” I will miss naan and butter chicken and momos and dosas and samosas and ladoos. I will miss going out to a good dinner and having it cost $1.50.

I will miss wearing saris and gigantic earrings and having that be normal professional attire. I will miss seeing the children in all their native finery, proud of their heritage. I will miss teaching, for all that it sometimes drove me crazy. I will miss hearing the babble of multiple languages going on around me—English, Hindi, Chinese, Punjabi, Korean, Japanese, German, or some combination of them all.

India is not the sort of place that you can ever forget. It gets under your skin and inside your heart, whether you want it to or not. I am not the same person I was when I came here and I am happy for the changes. So namaste, India, and thank you. Farewell for now, but hopefully not forever.


At 9:45 PM, Blogger Preya said...

Kate, your post made me cry! Reading this makes me miss Mussoorie even more, and I can't wait to visit in August; I just wish we could have met up! I wish you the best of luck and thank you for allowing us to read about your amazing experiences:)

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Rhonda said...

A perfect sum up of the Woodstock/Mussorie experience. I had to work hard to keep the tears down as well. Thanks from me too and blessings on the rest of your life's journey.


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