Where do I begin…
If you want the short version, here it is – the past 2 months have changed my life.
When I was getting ready for my trip to India, I had no idea that it would end in a group of my coworkers (who I now consider family) crying in the middle of our office floor saying our goodbyes. No words can describe this experience, except I know that it has forever changed me. After the first week of being there, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to capsulate everything into a weekly blog post. It just wouldn’t be fair to India. I needed to experience everything fully, get to another continent thousands of miles away, gather my thoughts, and remotely try to do it justice. [That’s my excuse for not keeping my blogging promise and I’m sticking to it.]
My adventure started in London, which I have been wanting to visit for a long time and it certainly didn’t fall short of my expectations. London is such a beautiful city – the perfect mixture of modern, upscale buildings and historic monuments, bridges, and streets. Everyone was so incredibly friendly and welcoming, I found myself enjoying beers with new friends at a different pub each night! On the weekend, I saw a bit of sightseeing with the hop-on-hop-off bus tours where I spend loads of time at St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, and Big Ben. I took a ferry through the river, seeing the London Eye and of course enjoyed some fish & chips along the river bank.
I quickly began telling everyone I was eager to move to London after a few short days (which people didn’t take seriously) but I will make every effort to try and arrange a move, even if it’s for a short while.
After my wonderful time in London, I was finally off to Indian. India was… An experience, to say the least. It was nothing like people warned me about. The food was delicious, the people were friendly and welcoming, and the traffic was, well entertaining. Sure, there were plenty of times I felt a little comfortable – like when we visited a Muslim mosque on our last day, and everyone was staring, not allowing us to step foot in the mosque because I was a woman and we were both foreigners… But that comes with the territory. If you have an open mind and are accepting of other people’s cultures and values, India becomes this incredible nation that can teach any “westerner” a whole lot about life that you wouldn’t have dreamed of booking your ticket.
In the 7 weeks I was in India, I believe I truly did change. I’m still trying to sort out what exactly that change is, but I know deep down, I found my inner calmness, my sense of peace, and my ability to let go and love. I needed this trip. More for these reasons than to just simply get away across the world, but I didn’t realize that until much later.
Two weeks into India, I went on a short trip to Goa. Goa is a beautiful beach city, known for its luscious and serene south, and party atmosphere north. Everything changed in Goa. Ironically, my only knowledge of Goa previous to this trip was from the movie “Outsourced” which I watched right before leaving. This couldn’t have been more true to this situation… & I’ll leave it at that.
When we came back from Goa, work started to pick up as it normally would around this time of the year. The biggest difference however was that I wasn’t feeling my usual stressed, freaking out about every single thing, the occasional tears from a bad client call or meeting, self. Nothing. The atmosphere around me was completely different. People were social, still taking their hour long lunch and dinner breaks, with a walk around the building after dinner and afternoon tea. I’ll admit, this was difficult for me to get used to at first, but once I learned to let go and disconnect for a short time, I really loved it! I enjoyed the breaks and found that they added to my productivity but more importantly distressed me more than any workout class ever did. In fact, they became a preventative because I never really reached the point of stress I normally did back home on a daily basis.
Once I learned to let go, everything just felt different. I really enjoyed getting to know everyone in Hyderabad, and was much more open and receptive to their reasoning and daily worries. In the beginning I couldn’t understand why someone would follow their parent’s wishes for where to live, where to work, what to study at the age of 25… But after a few weeks I learned to accept that it was their culture, their values, and their family pride, and that’s what was most important. I was appreciated each day more and more and the love and respect for my coworkers and expat friends continued to grow. A little before our filing deadline, we decided to take another short trip [something the old, high-strung me would have never agreed on!] and we headed off to Bangkok. Our Saturday night in Bangkok was nothing less than what one would imagine… booze, prostitutes, strip clubs – the usual. But it was Sunday that I really enjoyed and will be my lasting memory of Thailand. We took a ferry (with roadies on the way) to the Reclining Buddha temple which was so beautiful and calming. We lit essence sticks at a smaller temple, sat for a few minutes in peace, and also stuck little gold pieces to various Buddha statues. The whole experience was extremely therapeutic for me and I only wish we had more time to explore the other temples around the area. On our way to a quick bathroom break, we stumbled upon a palm reader… and I just couldn’t refuse! I know most people think it’s silly and so generic you could apply it to anything in your life, but I can’t help but fall for them. He told me many things about my future, including that I would be moving this year “to an island nation in Europe…” London here I come! J
After coming back from Bangkok, the reality that this trip is coming to an end began to feel very real and sobering. I guess the biggest part I’m leaving out of this whole blog is the one that had the most profound impact in my life and on my journey. There is something terrifying, almost nauseating, thinking about spilling such personal and intimate feelings and emotions; but yet it also has this therapeutic effect that I find I desperately need right now…
India will be known as the Love Affair chapter in my life. Something I will never quite understand. We started out as old souls, meeting again from another lifetime with a love story and friendship already behind us. It was something I had never experienced before with anyone, after days of meeting – I felt like I knew him for years. We were coming from such different places in our lives and nothing could ever materialize, but we couldn’t deny what was there between us – whatever ‘that’ was. I felt the need to be by his side, even if we were silent; wanting to share every moment and experience together; all while feeling an immense sense of comfort and electricity at every touch. Words would never be enough to explain my true feelings, nor would they justify my actions. I felt like a hypocrite; but also couldn’t deny what I truly wanted. I always wondered [and still am] what was the purpose for us to meet, at this time and point in our lives? Maybe this will come with time, or maybe never. Either way, he changed a part of me and filled my journey with love, laughter, and life-long memories.
The past two months have made me realize my life is nothing short of greatness. I am so incredibly lucky to experience these amazing moments and beautiful places. But most of all, I am blessed to have met such great people that will forever be in my life and in my heart. I thought the last week of my trip was very difficult and sad saying goodbye to everyone and not knowing when I’d see them again; even thinking how it’s not fair that I have to part with my friends when others don’t. But now thinking about it, it’s not sad and certainly not unfair. It’s heartwarming to know that somewhere across the pond, someone also has a little piece of my heart, forever & always…