Here’s another unfinished post that I began last year, just after returning from India…
(February 2011) A week ago I began a 24-hours journey that took me 8055.788 miles from my apartment in Abids, Hyderabad to my friend Emily’s apartment in Brooklyn, New York. After one domestic flight, a layover in Delhi, a 15-hour flight, and several choice Bollywood flicks, I scribbled the following words:
The plane is descending toward the thousands of New York City lights. And just like that a year abroad is over. Palestine is so distant.
Arriving at JFK to Emily’s greetings brought me full circle in a way, since she was the last person I saw before a plane took me from the same airport to Tel Aviv a year ago.
The fifteen hours in the air between India and the U.S. didn’t seem as long or treacherous as I expected. After all, I’ve spent that length of time on trains within India! And the grand cultural differences haven’t been as striking as they should be—but it’s probably just easier to not really absorb all that while I focus on minor things, like how I keep reaching for a non-existent fire starter when lighting Emily’s gas stove, or how it feels strange to pick up food with my left hand.
For readers who have spent long periods outside the U.S. and returned, the notes in this post will probably sound familiar. For readers who haven’t, this is what it’s like.
Speaking the major language of the place I’m at makes it hard to block annoying conversations out of my mind. Not being STARED at all the time makes it easier to focus on my own thoughts in public spaces. Very few people make eye contact in this city. Far fewer say “hello.” I suppose it’s too cold to do much other than rush to wherever you’re going. Then again, I’ve found that smiling makes the temperature more bearable.
I dislike the cold. That’s not surprising. Not wearing sandals anymore means that my cracked feet are healing, but I forgot how dry the rest of my skin gets in mid-Atlantic winter weather. I don’t want to spend next winter in a cold environment.