I left India in an intense rage, and I couldn’t have imagined it any differently.
After a 13 hour bus-ride down from the Himalayan town Dharamshala starting at 7 am I made it to Delhi to await my 6am flight in the airport.
Though sleep was desperately being asked for that night, it was not received on the hard floor of the crowded, blaringly hot New Delhi airport. Eventually 6 am rolled around and I groggily hefted my pack onto the ported plane. My flight left just as the sun was rising on the hazy Indian skyline.
Definitely not my favorite city in India – the last time I was there I was chased around the bus station at midnight by a group of teenagers trying to force me to take innumerable selfies with them. And it’s gotta be the hottest place in the world. I can’t properly say it’s the worst, however, because I didn’t catch Kolkata – where faulty infrastructure regularly results in metro overheads becoming metro onto-yer-heads.
But despite even my best efforts not to I had a very awesome, sleep deprived, caffeine loaded day exploring the Capital of Dosa (big gravy and potato filled pancakes)
Disclaimer: Dosas were harmed in the making of this day
My last day in India was filled with sentimental goodbyes to the small things that had charmed me along the way. With melancholy I said farewell to the Shiva temples on every block corner and the consequential Ganesha temples across the street.
I purged every part of myself on the senses given by the birthplace of spirituality. Her crooked sidewalk under my feet, her blistering air on my skin, her kaleidoscope colors like desirous dreams in my eyes, her smells of incense and human depravity, her tastes of nature, spice, and soul. India was as fresh in my mind as it had been every day for the past 6 months.
6 WHOLE MONTHS! Half a year! 1/38th of my entire lifespan had taken place here. And this was the end.
India had held some incredible adventures for me – climbing Delhi temple ruins like a monkey, scouring the crowd-packed markets, sharing the train berth with 12 strangers, biking recklessly through the Ghats, sneaking stealthy past wild elephants, leading an enterprise to investment, becoming an expert traveler/friend maker, becoming strong within and feeling my strength without.
India held some incredible lessons for me as well – I learned many hard truths about life on earth. I saw many things I won’t forget if my eyes see another thousand years. Things that make the circumstances of my own birth seem nearly sarcastic in contrast to others – my privilege would stare me in the face with a grimace every single day, sourly spitting the contempt, “Why are you so special?” over and over. Things that told the true trivial nature of the things all humans make important in our lives – revealing to me that we can only find meaning through celebrating the people that care for us for the stupid, gross, fantastic, goofy people they are.
I thought about the last incredible week I’d had in the birthplace of the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, the Hindu yogis of legend – the Himalayan mountain range. It could be called the greatest of God’s creation – and I would agree wholeheartedly, and wholestomachedly – because Tibetan food is the cat’s pajamas.
Oh – so are the masterpieces of the universe. Here’s a pic of me enjoying both!
(Speaking of Tibet I’d like call your attention to the terrible injustices that the Tibetan people face under the tyrannical rule of the Chinese government. Take a moment to check out this link: www.freetibet.org. China keeps their terrible doings under wraps by limiting the speech of the people – the more people that know about it the better!
Now back to the story!)
On a bizarre collision course of fate I met up with a fellow Gap Fellow (the best people in the world) there in the Himalayas (the best place in the world.) Leah and I hiked, camped, marveled, depolluted, and motored ourselves through the white giants, belligerent on the will of becoming and constantly in awe of what we could mold from reality.
We were, in every sense, on top of the world.
Suddenly I lurched from my flashback to find myself drooling into a cup of hot chai on the hottest day in the hottest city, sweating furiously. I was dreaming about the cold I had just left up in Himachal Pradesh, delirious from a lack of sleep.
I looked up from my warm predicament to see my best friend, Koushik, come to see my off to my next gap year leg.
At the same instant my heart swelled with affection and terrible remorse. How could I leave my bud after everything he’d done for me? How could I leave SustainEarth after we’d accomplished so much?
I was leaving at the very beginning! Being forced to sell my shares.
I was being Zuckerburged by destiny.
Koushik took me to the airport as I tried to decide if I wanted to sleep or weep.
Good byes do not get easier, friend.
“Bye, buddy,” Koushik said as we stood in front of the airport gate as ritual demands.
“Shut up,” I said – not wanting what was happening to be happening. There was a pause.
“Hey, cheer up, man – you’re going on another great adventure. You’re the luckiest guy I know and deservedly so, enjoy this! I’ll see you again in a year or two, I know it!” said Koushik.
“Yeah, I’m just sad that I won’t be a part of SustainEarth when it becomes a billion dollar success. Put aside a million for me, yeah?” I shot with a little grin.
Koushik tugged my shoulders in a fraternal embrace, “You’ll always be a part of SustainEarth, dude – India welcomes you anytime.”
“See ya soon,” I murmured as I turned away and walked into the airport as quickly as I could flee the scene with my huge pack in the state I was in.
With an hour left before my international flight I was greeted at the check in counter with a smooth, “You need proof of onward travel to enter Thailand,” which I definitely did not have at the moment. So I bent over, bit my finger, and prepared to be screwed one last time before I left India.
It was only appropriate.
I ended up having to buy a very expensive plane ticket from an obscure Lebanese travel agency located in a makeshift – blue tarp hut just outside of the airport grounds, that I had no use for whatsoever and was unable to cancel or refund.
Hence my fit of rage.
For all of a moment all of my emotions were numbing my spongy, depleted mind and I was experiencing a tangible depression that I could almost look in the face.
I felt like spit getting on the plane.
But if India taught me a single thing, it’s that adversity is not the equal of failure. It’s not a very good reason to be upset ,either, actually nothing that comes to mind quite is.
So before I let myself fall into a corpse-like state of rest high above the Bengali Bay, I celebrated my time in India – the solitude, the alienation, the praise, the grand, and the glory of loving those who were around to love – and paid homage to what I’d learned by practicing my stride that could take anything.
As you do.
And then I died as much as the most alive person can do so – to wake up in a new life, in a new world with a new set of rules and new terrors to dispute.
Cued up: Thailand.