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The First 50 Hours (Part II)
April 21, 2017
By this point I hope some of you are wondering why these sections are not labeled “The First 25 hours,” and “The Last 25 hours.” Well sticklers, time doesn’t cut itself up neatly in real life and frankly I feel like I have been “in travel mode” for a short lifetime, all I know is leaving my house to entering my guest house n Madurai included three different dates in mid April and was roughly a 50 hour trip. Also, alliteration, folks, you know you appreciate it so don’t fight it.
It is the last few minutes of April 18th, one of the longest days of my life. I have just completed too much travel for not going terribly far, like the moon. Yesterday morning I was a well rested person. By yesterday afternoon I was woken up during an impromptu nap (which involved me “redefining” of the terms and purposes of the “Meditation Room” at Heathrow airport) as about 25 Muslims filed in around my armadillo position on a yoga mat and began prostrating and chanting. Needless to say I am still unrested.
So, yes, very early this morning I was in London, having never seen India. Now I have been to three of its airports, I have been through three different versions of security here, I have drunk as much London water as possible before having to throw the rest away. I have used four water treatment pills. I have not tried any of the local food or water yet. Although, the woman who picked me up did buy me three bananas. They are in the little fridge in the kitchen area of this guest house. This house is bigger than I could have asked for, cleaner than my house, hot as a handful of thick Florida sand, and it is bit lonely. There’s a distinct, sweet smell here, I mean there are many smells and especially those on the drive here were not all pleasant smells but to my relief the air is not clogged with smog, there are visible stars, and many of the smells and sights are breathtakingly beautiful (as far as I saw, through the maze of headlights and days of forced-insomnia). There are badass women of all ages in pink saris on motorbikes. There are boys who must be younger than ten in salmon jeans, pedaling through the crashing, honking current of cars like a fish against the current, pulling carts laden with sacks and packages twenty times their size.
There’s something in the air here that is breaking my heart. I wasn’t expecting that. It’s so familiar and I can’t…place it. But it reminds me of Europe. Part of me is adjusting: this is just another hostel, marble floor, hard bed, supreme lack of home or familiarity. And this time, I’m on my own. No one is here. I’m locked behind the bolt on the gate, the bolt on the front door, and the second door, and the lock to my room. I’m locked behind sturdy walls—there’s even air conditioning over my bed but still, right through the curtained window there’s a whole massive, insane city outside and I’m the only American 18 year old female for who knows how many miles. I miss having someone to band together with, against the otherness of this place. It’s so unlike anything. It’s a movie, it’s a dream. It is scary and exhausting…but can I deny that part of me is itching to see these streets and palm trees and templed skyline in the sunlight?