I’ve been in the US for little over a week. Stella was great on the plane, and the luggage wasn’t as much of a burden as I thought it would be. The layover in Munich was cold and miserable, and it was spent huddled, drinking an obscene amount of coffee in one of the only cafés open at 7 in the morning. The nine-hour flight from Munich to Newark was annoying. It was a full flight with no empty seats and I was cramped in an economy seat with Stella underneath in a carrier that barely fit. Earlier during the flight from Bombay she barked when I went to pee, prompting whispers from other passengers, so every subsequent bathroom visit was a precarious dance as I managed the logistics of peeing while holding her up, trying to avoid either one of us touching the disgusting floor. The apologetic, deflated look on her face mirrored my own as we looked at each other, her in the air and me squatting over the toilet, hoping not to pee on myself too much. Parents, I feel your pain now.
I arrived on Election Day just in time to see Donald Trump get elected in the US and Modi announce the immediate devaluation of all 500 and 1000 rupee notes in India in an after-hours missive. These two things independently would have affected me, but together it was amplified. There are people I love in India who live primarily on cash and are struggling to get their old paper notes changed at the banks. They’re standing in hours-long lines, taking off from work and losing wages to do so. Back here at home, we’ve got an uncertain political future and an increasingly volatile divide in ideals which is fragmenting people in a way I’ve only read about in books. Talks of a “muslim register” and “building a wall” between the US and Mexico…it’s exclusionary, shameful, and deeply damaging. Truth be told, I wasn’t happy to come back, and I am even less so now.
In addition to that, it’s been a rough transition. I’m in a new place with new demands I’ve put on myself, and though it should feel familiar, in so many ways it’s completely foreign to me. I’ve found myself pining for the Northeast ever since I got here. Something doesn’t feel right, there’s a grave stillness, a sensation of waiting for something, like seeing the sky change and feeling the wind before a thunderstorm. Though I am going through the motions of setting up “life stuff”, everything inside of me is still in Pune and I just want to go home. A friend warned me not to do this so I won’t, but the struggle is daily and it’s fierce. It’s bigger than me this time, and that’s something I never felt when I left New Jersey.
Personal battles aside, the logistics of re-patting have been a good distraction. I am eager to get back to work so my career search has been consuming most of the day. I found an excellent dog park for Stella, a few good Indian shops and restaurants, and a café with decent coffee that isn’t Starbucks. I know I can survive here, but so far I’m feeling like a potted plant on a patio…portable, impermanent, with no roots in the ground.
It will be interesting to see what the next few months hold. I have plans to visit India, and the shipping container arrives just in time for Christmas. It will be good to have everything back in one place, though after being without “stuff” for such a long time, I wonder if I need it, and the space in the house, at all…oh, the places a brain can wander with the luxury of so much time alone…