Friday, March 30, 2012

"I wanna go baaaaack"

In April 2005 after a six month stint, I left India for the first time. I didn’t set foot back into the country until November 2010 when I landed to search for a new apartment. In the 4.5 years that passed between those dates, there were no fewer than three situations where I thought I’d get a chance to go back for anywhere ranging from a couple weeks to multiple months. However, as the announcer in FIFA ‘99 would often tell my buddy Jimmy in our N64 glory days, “chance gone begging there” when he missed a shot on goal back, the chance for my return trip to India went begging as well; it never materialized.

As I transitioned to my new job in the US (still heavily involved with working with India), I was delighted to learn that three trips had been budgeted for my return to my adopted homeland in 2012. Not just three trips, but three two-week trips. While I had no intention of spending six weeks in India this year unless absolutely necessary, I took the fact that six weeks of travel had been planned as a relatively safe assumption that I’d wait less than 4.5 years for my return. In fact, the first trip was planned to commence 4.5 months from my return.

I had visions of a productive week of work and a weekend in Delhi filled with my favorite restaurants, a brunch (oh yes, there would have been a brunch), a stop at Maharaja Arts for a rug (the old rug from Home Depot beneath our dining room table is a very nice rug; however, when placed in proximity to our rug from India, it starts to look like, well, a rug from Home Depot), and maybe even a trip back to Grover’s (my tailor) at Khan Market. Of course, as part of this vision, my trusty driver Kailash (whom I obviously would have requested and received, because you know, he was my driver for two years) would have greeted me at the airport with a fresh batch of photos from his recent wedding. Everything was going to be perfect.

Then last Friday I received an email from my boss with a rather ominous subject line: “India is ‘off.’”

That didn’t sound like good news. Hoping that maybe she had mistyped, I still opened the email. Unfortunately, bad news confirmed. The trip was off. I could have saved a few keystrokes and just trusted the subject heading.

The repatriation process is tough. It’s tougher, in my opinion, when you return domestically to an unfamiliar place. I have to admit, after four months back in the states, a busy month of December getting moved, and two months of constant work travel and visitors, I was really looking forward to getting back to a familiar, comfortable place.

In some ways, it helps that I saw some Indian colleagues in Chicago a couple weeks ago, including my boss while I was and the gentleman that replaced me. In fact, we hosted him for dinner at the new house in Orlando when he visited for a couple days the following week. It’s fun to have visitors and show off Lindsay’s “finds” and tell the stories of how those finds were found. It’s more fun when you show a home full of Indian objects to someone from there that truly appreciates it (I mean, people humor us and tell us the stuff we brought back is cool; but what do they really care?). I used to describe our home decorating style as “Pottery Barn and Asia involved in some sort of conflict that has yet to be decided.” As we showed Jagmohan around the new digs, it was pretty obvious Asia came out on top of that conflict.

As good as it is to talk to and see people from India, and I’m not at the “Jack in ‘Lost’” state yet, sitting drunk at the end of a runway wailing “I wanna go baaaaack.” But the reality is, I do want to go back. At some point here I’m sure I will, and 4.5 months may have been a little unrealistic.

Let’s just hope it’s not 4.5 years.


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  2. I'm starting (a little bit) to worry about the whole 'missing India' bit -- people keep telling me that it's going to happen. We still have two months in Delhi, then two months in Florida before heading to Singapore ... so a lot is happening the rest of this year, and I'm trying to "get it all in" before May 31st!

    I'm sorry your trip got cancelled :(

  3. John, what you need is an afternoon at Toby Keith's I Love This Bar. After a few jars of macro brew, I'm sure your homesickness for India will subside. That, or move to Cincinnati. It is often said that Cincinnati is a melting pot of cultures, a crossroads of civilizations.

  4. Delhibound, we were the same way the last couple months we were over there and packed a lot of travel in right before we left. On the bright side, we saw a lot we wouldn't have otherwise but I'm not sure I really ever really "closed" out my experience. Of course, there's always time to do that....

    Heenan, a day at the track in May and all should be well.

  5. Since coming home at the end of January I've been too busy to really reflect on my time in India (started a new job that has been keeping me BUSY!) but it's funny you should post this because it hit me last week - that I'm really starting to miss India too. I think back to some things and remember them so vividly it feels like yesterday....Definitely looking forward to going back. At least to visit. Hopefully sooner than later. (And with a proper budget not on a volunteer stipend it'll be SO nice to REALLY do some shopping!!)