After a wonderful trip to Chennai and Goa, I flew back to Delhi this evening. As we hovered over the city and touched down, and as I took a taxi through the night, I flashed back to the last (and first) time I touched down in Delhi almost exactly three months ago and made my way through the exact same streets into the city.
I remember vividly what I was feeling then: completely exhausted, a little confused, relieved to have made it to india, but also kind of in disbelief that these things I was seeing for the first time would become familiar to me, that I would spend almost a year in the place I was looking at through the window. I remember thinking that the striped sidewalk edges were strangely unflattering, and I felt dizzied by all the roundabouts spinning off in strange directions. I sat on a bus with about ten other people I had never met before, thinking how odd it was that a year from that day, I would have shared unforgettable life experiences with many of them.
Three months and a short two-hour flight later, I made my way through the same motions at the same hour of the night, but this time I breathed the sigh of relief that comes with returning home. Being thankful that I could just speak in Hindi instead of trying to make out Tamil or Konkani as I’ve had to do the last few weeks. Finally being able to understand what people were saying again without straining my ears. Watching the road signs closely to make sure we were taking the shortest route to Lajpat Nagar, and showing the driver the shortcut into my neighborhood. It’s amazing to me how natural living here feels to me after such a short time.
I am one third way through my Fulbright already. As quickly as this three months has gone by, the next six will go even faster. I can’t believe that I won’t be here for the next Diwali or Dussehra, just as last year at this time, it was hard for me to conceive of spending Thanksgiving and Christmas in India.
In one way I feel kind of like a snail that has been picked up off the ground and experiences the third dimension for the first time — kind of dizzy and without the vocabulary to describe what I feel. But mostly, it makes me happy to have found so many places that feel like home.