The Journey to India
I stepped onto the plane in Chicago, red suitcase in hand and Northface backpack strapped on tightly. I was traveling alone, over 8,000 miles, to a new country for five weeks. I have never been out of the country that long let alone in a place so unfamiliar and unknown. And only bringing one suitcase. So many wonders. So many uncertainties. But I sank deep into my seat on the United flight listening to SoundCloud for the last time for over a month and accepting my step away from technology and wireless connection.
Sitting on the tarmac. Hours. The generator apparently malfunction on the Chicago flight so it was delayed. I started sweating a bit, wondering what I would do if I missed this connection flight to Delhi. My entire class was taking this Delhi flight, meeting, and then driving to Dharamsala the next day. A 14 hour drive through the countryside before coming to the peaceful base of the Himalayan mountains.
I am ancy in my seat. Texting, scrambling, monkey mind. Finally after 2.5 hours, the flight takes off for Newark. I knew it in my stomach. I wasn't going to make it. But I tried. I really did. I asked the flight attendant if she could contact the next plane. "Yes it's already in the computer system they know you are delayed and will hold the plane. In fact, there are 8 of you on this flight going to Delhi so there will be an assistant when you land who will drive you to the gate where the plane will be waiting".
"Don't worry you will make it," the man next to me concluded. But I didn't feel so certain. My head was aching and I drifted into a restless sleep, dreaming of roti and big brown eyes. When I awoke we still had 45 minutes until landing so I put on "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". I figure that it would get me in the mindset for India. The lump in my stomach just got larger. I tried to swallow it down, but I realized that getting to this place would be delayed and I was saddened. I persevered, though. When we landed the flight attendant announced,"Please stay in your seat if you do not have a connecting international flight". As soon as the seat belt sign clicked off, everyone stood up from their seats. Of course, not everyone had a connecting flight and my frustration and impatience grew.
"Can someone please me hand me the red suitcase in the overhead bin back there please?" I pleaded. No one acquiesced. Be assertive. My mother's words rang clearly in my head. It wasn't easy for me to be so pushy. I asked again and finally got the suitcase. I ran off the plane, red suitcase in tow and didn't see a car waiting for us. Off to gate C108, sprinting, running like hell, breathing hard, sweating, holding back tears, anxiety, frustration. Of course, the gate door was closed when I arrived and I left all my classmates on the plane.
We could've tried harder. They could've held the plane and let us 8 get on. But they didn't. And that's the reality. Maybe it's because it was little me and 7 Indians who are not pushy by nature, or maybe it was God's way telling me I had a better path waiting for my journey to India. But as was said in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, "Everything will be all right in the end. And if it's not all right, then it is not yet the end". I booked my flight to New Delhi for the exact same time 24 hours later and was sent to a nice Hilton in New Jersey for the night. Sleeping all alone. Eating all alone. Spending the day all alone. But it's good to be alone and with one's self. We are so constantly bombarded by stimulation and clutter we forget about our own inner surface. And now I am headed back to the Newark airport. A 14.5 hour flight to New Delhi where I will arrive Sunday night at 9:30 pm. A monk will be there waiting to take me to a nearby hotel. I will eat dal and rice. Sleep a little. And then return to the airport the next morning for my flight to Dharamsala. So I avoided the 14 hour drive. And I am so excited to be among the mountains and monks and meditation. Back to a space of awareness I haven't truly felt since my time with Ram Dass in Hawaii. And after our time in Dharamsala, I am traveling to a Tibetan monastery in Mungod, which I think will be the even more spiritually awakening aspect of the trip. But time will tell. And I will continue writing and posting pictures! For now, I must head to the airport to catch the right flight to Delhi, read some letters, some books, write some poems, watch movies, maybe sleep, and prepare myself for a completely different part of the world. Yes this place we live in is so small, but at the same time, so diverse and there's so much that we haven't even seen yet. Things that we may never be able to comprehend even when we observe them.
During my trip, I will blog when I have wireless access, but I am really going to avoid Facebook and messaging as much as possible. I believe it's easier to immerse oneself fully in an experience when they are disengaged from attachments and desires that are simple to return to. So I will try. Stay tuned :).