Back In the U.S.

May 22, 2009

Jet lag is still sinking its claws into my brain, though the fuzziness and dizziness and feverishness of the first few days of returning to the U.S. have subsided. For a few days I was convinced that I had contracted typhoid. I wasn’t sure what my workplace would do if they knew that they were responsible for my imminent death. Then I drank a few bottles of water and realized I was just a little dehydrated. Perhaps I am the only girl who has traveled to India during the hottest season who has gotten dehydrated after she returns to the U.S. I was very well-hydrated in India. So hydrated that I dreaded any car ride, knowing that I was going to have to be the girl who would flag down the driver and try to communicate “I need a toilet” across the language barrier. Twice I was led to showers instead. Twice I peed in showers.

It is good for a body to be a foreigner for a while, to be reminded how ridiculous you can feel in foreign clothes and what a challenge it can be to eat unfamiliar food. Thankfully Indians eat with their hands, so if anything stirred up in that curry sauce looks iffy, you can just squeeze it for bones, grissle, bugs, or shoelaces. If none of the above have been cooked into the meat, you can simply put the meat in your mouth and wash it down with a bite of hard-boiled egg. Actually, though, I must say, that the food was pretty much amazing while we were there. They kept us well-fed, with plates double the size of our American dinner plates, heaping with meat, rice, nan, potatoes, picked-whatever, and love. Unfortunately, my weight-loss plan didn’t work. Half of me hoped I’d bring back a parasite just to get on track again.

I am having a hard time putting into words the details of my trip. There was so much. So many emotions passed through me in such a short period of time. I felt like I was in a time warp. It felt like we had been there for years. Some days I wasn’t sure what decade it was. I am working up an essay on the trip, which I will probably publish in segments on the blog. The experience warrants so much description that it may take a while for me to formulate exactly the right words that the place deserves. India is a paradigm. I want to tell you, but I don’t think you’ll get it unless you’ve been there. No matter how much you know or how much studying you’ve done, you have no idea until you’re there.