on Roundabouts in Delhi (India), 10/Jan/2012 17:22, 34 days ago
One of the best and strangest things about travelling andliving abroad is going home. I returned home to England for Christmas and NewYear and it was the first time I’d been back in a year. Within twenty fourhours of arriving home I was in a London pub with friends, surrounded by otherBritish people drinking their pints and generally being British. At first Ifelt a bit as though I’d strayed into a theme park of Britain as it was such astereotypical scene andso familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time. Anothertwenty four hours later I left the pub…just kidding, another twenty four hourslater of being at home and India seemed like it had almost never happened, asthough it had been some crazy dream.My reason for writing this slightly abstract post is Iwanted to try and put down how it feels to me leading this slightly strangedouble-life. How quickly you can revert from one situation to another and forboth to seem completely normal, with perhaps just a few minor details out ofplace. For instance, I was at first a little spooked out by just how quiet theroads are in England, in fact how quiet it is in general compared to Delhi. Ialso quite enjoyed the freedom my foreigner status gave me at times, such as daringto look around me in the London Tube (metro) carriage and look people in theeye. It might sound ridiculous but this is something that Londoners simplydon’t do and there is something quite freeing about not observing certainrituals which have always seemed absurd to me anyway.I found I got a bit stuck when people at home asked me,“So,how’s India?” A year living of living in Delhi and travelling and the best Icould mostly come up with was, “Great thanks!” As though I’d just popped to theshops to get some milk. The thing is I find it a bit difficult to strike amiddle balance between saying the bare minimum for fearof being a bore andbeing a bore and going through a blow by blow account of my daily life in India.After all, that’s what this blog is for! So apologies friends and family if Iwas a bore at any point, at least I didn’t subject you to any slide shows. Thistime.Right now I’m sat in Riyadh Airport on a ten hour stopover(the economy way to fly) and yet again it almost feels like home was just somelovely dream. I was so confused a few hours ago that I forgot I was going backto Delhi and was thinking about what I’d do when I got back to the UK tomorrowwhere I’ve just left. I blame the factthat I’ve already been travelling for 12 hours on very little sleep (Em/Nikki -it could have ended like my train journey to Stevenage only on internationalproportions). It’s a strange airport as in addition to being in the middle ofthe desert with no apparent activity outside of it - you don’t see the runwayuntil you’ve touched down on it - there are large numbers of transit passengersalso here on long stopovers so there’s a mini international airport communitydoing laps of the very small airport looking at the food they can’t buy (if youhappen to be here in transit see if you can get your hands on some Saudi riyals)and looking increasingly bleary eyed as the transit hours tick by.A couple of days ago the memories of my life in Indiastarted to come back and I began to mentally prepare myself for my return. Itfeels very different from when I left England for India this time last year asthis time round I know what I’m letting myself in for. This is both a good andbad thing. As before I hate leaving my friends and family behind and constantlythink I must be mad to do so but there’s always that other part of me that’sexcited to be going back and misses India. It was the strangest feeling when Iwas leavingDelhi before Christmas as although I was stupidly excited aboutgoing home I also felt a little unsettled about leaving my bizarre Delhi world.It seems that at some point during the year it has become my new ‘normal.’Despite my heart sinking slightly at the thought of my body being put throughanother year of extreme heat, humidity and potential hair loss (it’s only justgrown back to its former lustre which wasn’t particularly lustrous in the firstplace), India and Delhi in particular seems to have well and truly gotten undermy skin in a way I don’t really fully understand but am learning to embrace.