These first 24 hours have been almost script-worthy. With years and years of expectations in my mind, experiences with India up until now, I am very glad this is the time and place I, or my destiny, has chosen I come.
I would not have been prepared.
It is best to arrive with an idea of what you want, but no expectations. I am truly relaxed for the first time in a long time. Chicago was a maze of plans, obligations, goodbye, and responsibility. I get to enjoy these next 10-15 days with nothing more than one or two goals. My goal today is to find Acumen Fund’s office, and make contact with my family that I am okay. Hopefully tomorrow I get a SIM card that actually works. Maybe if I’m really lucky I will get my bags, which, by the way, got lost in customs in Delhi.
The truth is you can’t listen to what anyone tells you about your experience. After hearing advice for months about what to expect, I made the decision to listen to myself. I thought I would be receiving a SIM card. It is clear that’s not happening. The hotel owners are already plotting lies telling me it will take up to five days so I stay longer in Juhu. I called a friend of mine from Portapure and she tells me it takes up to 2 hours if you go to the store.
So where am I? Yeah, the Reliance store. Because you have to make the best decisions for yourself.
In short, that’s why I’m here. I thought this would be a good decision for me, and hopefully I am right. I may be making one of the dumbest decisions of my life but this is a risk worth taking. The past few days were emotionally exhausting including my goodbye session with over forty friends attending, the goodbye with my roommate, dinner with my parents and friends, and of course saying goodbye to my parents for the first time in a long time. They follow me the whole way. They followed me even after they couldn’t— and security pushed them from the terminal.
Your support is so important. Because now I’m alone, and I need to know I can do this.
On the way to the airport I began crying with my parents, knowing full well I may not know when I am returning. It may be a year, it may be years. So many opportunities and things I want are over here, thousands of miles from the small town I grew up in.
My conviction grows stronger in the first day. I laugh because so many things have happened that I already experienced back in the states in one way or another through my immersion in Indian culture. Weird men? Yes. Monkeys? Yes. Obsession with ketchup (I hate ketchup) and awkwardness after refusal. Yes and yes.
But if you are someone that loves chaos, disorder, and are relaxed Mumbai couldn’t be better.
As the plane began flying down I couldn’t stop laughing because of all the lights around the airport. The lights remind me of the lights you see around Kansas City (we know they aren’t the classiest, but we love them). You get off the plane and a million people are asking you questions. People are leading you from where you need to go. You don’t quite know where you are going. But you can’t listen to the noise. You have to listen to yourself. Of course, you make friends with every stray dog and children, just as I imagined.
I woke up this morning at a hotel off Juhu Beach. I took a rickshaw to find a Reliance store to let everyone know I wasn’t dead in Delhi somewhere. I was woken up in the middle of the night by monkeys. I was driven all over the city last night by my friend who picked me up from the airport. I saw the shantytowns, people with disabilities, and it didn’t phase me. None of this phases me, aside from lack of toothbrush and clean clothes. The only thing I really need help with is I have to learn Hindi. I have to, or I’m losing so much of this experience. I don’t like feeling stupid, and stupid is all I have right now.
The script right now is almost like a scene out of Eat, Pray, Love. The deep conviction, the searching, the confusion, and of course the friendly Westerner laughing at me along the way.