Stranger in a Strange Land
Tales of a Year Abroad

The Long Goodbye

This is my last post from India. 


This week has been a series of long, painful goodbyes to neighbors, friends, and places I've grown to love. It seems, with each final break, the moment I turn my back and walk away, a little piece of my heart breaks free from my body and remains behind. 

This morning, as I fed the street dogs that live across the street--Scratchy and Gimpy--I found myself wiping away a stray tear or two. "I wish I could bring you with me," I whispered as they nuzzled my hands. 


I found myself smiling sadly as I posed with, and then bought vegetables I didn't need from, my vegetable lady Vena. 

I drank in the cacophonous colors of Rattan Pol--the vivid reds, purples, blues, and greens that don't exist at home--and relished the sounds, smells, and bodies that crowded the narrow streets. 


I joked, for one last time, with Karsen-bhai, pretending that his scandalous jokes were, in fact, scandalous.


Last night, as we watched TV with the Shahs--the family across the hall that we've grown close to--I found myself mentally storing the sound of Lav, Bhoomi, and Parita's laughter.


I have been, truly, transformed by this experience. I feel, as I write these words, gratitude and sadness well up inside my chest. I am reluctant to leave this place; I fear I may never return. 


And yet, a part of me knows I will. This place is home, now. These people and places belong to me now, and I to them.



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Visions of India

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Hodgepodge and Miscellany

The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Alladin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of traditions, whose yesterday's bear date with the modering antiquities for the rest of nations-the one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.
- Mark Twain

In India, I found a race of mortals living upon the Earth, but not adhering to it, inhabiting cities, but not being fixed to them, possessing everything, but possessed by nothing.
- Appolonius Tyanaeus

If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.
-Romain Rolland