LANDED: INDIA

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It’s time to catch up on this fall’s travel.  First up:  India.

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I’ve just landed in Newark after a last minute trip to India.

I haven’t been to India since 2010, but that year I travelled to the subcontinent several times.  My final trip in 2010 marked the end of my time with the organization I was working for.  I remember driving to a tiny airport to start the journey home and thinking that I may very well never come back to that corner of northeast India.  Never say never, I suppose.

There is no quick way to get home to the east coast from India.  My route of choice was on Continental flight  #83 (now United flight #83), a direct fifteen-hour hop from Delhi to Newark. On each trip, a dear friend and I would touch down at 4:30 a.m. in Newark and then race to the Terminal C Dunkin Donuts.  After a couple of weeks of eating hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, a sugary treat was so thoroughly enjoyable.  I miss my sidekick this morning.

I was unsure of what to expect during this trip.  Should I anticipate progress and change and development in the community where we work?  Should I brace myself for sameness?

I’m still sorting through the trip, what I saw and where I fit into all of it.  India is overwhelming – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the masses – and, quite frankly, sometimes I just don’t know what to do with it.  But, this morning, I am feeling so grateful for the people I’ve traveled with and come to know in India – people who I’ve shared terrible Indian beer with and fought malaria-carrying mosquitos with, people who I have seen world wonders and witnessed heartbreaking poverty with, people who have (rightfully) put a cap on my pashmina spending, people who have introduced me to the delicacy that is garlic naan, but most importantly, people who have been courageous enough to believe that in the midst of very dark circumstances, change is possible.  In the center of a chaotic city, there are a group of men and women working quietly day in and day out extending hope in a profoundly tangible way to a group of very poor, very marginalized people.  And I am profoundly grateful to know them.

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