Happy to be back in Kerala
The circle of our long December journey closed this morning when we touched down in Trivandrum. The experience of returning to Kerala after being away for close to a month was a bit striking to me. Back in late August, we took a similar flight from from Mumbai to Trivandrum and I remember the excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty that accompanied our first arrival here. As we broke below the cloud ceiling and viewed the vast explosion of green palms and lush vegetation, we felt as if we were landing on a different planet. On our initial journey from the airport, we were terrified by the inane driving, noted how the the clothing was so different, shocked by the noise and litter and tropical foliage, and distracted by ever present question "how are we going to do here" resonating in our minds.
This morning, we once again flew from Mumbai over the same view but the emotions were completely different. We experienced a sense of relief, a feeling of homecoming, a return to what was familiar and comfortable. Last August, we had a small taste of the north of India and had nothing yet with which to compare the experience. This time, we consumed a banquet's worth of the north and came away grateful for all that we saw and did over the past few weeks but perhaps even more so, grateful that fate landed us in Kerala as our place to live for six months. I used to snicker a bit at the motto of the Kerala tourist board for Kerala as "God's Own Country", but I'm not snickering any more. Physical environment aside, the month we spent away from our apartment at TRINS allowed me to realize how much of a home Kerala has become. Stepping into the airport, I was so in tune to the laid back pace of things, being able to hire a cab knowing the appropriate fare and not having to wonder how much we were being ripped off this time, the ability to stop in a local supermarket we use on the way home to quickly pick up a few food items without having to search high and low, people we know smiling and waving as we pulled into the school - these are the little things we had taken for granted. Kerala is still India and has many maddening ways of operating and not operating, but what has been long suspected has been definitively confirmed - we are quite fortunate to have had this India experience in this unique part of the country.
More postings will follow related to some of the interesting experiences we've had over the last few weeks as I sort through the multitude of photos and video and draw out images that might be interesting to readers as well as to ourselves. This blog serves not only to share our experiences with family, friends, and other readers, but it also serves us as a lasting chronicle of our experience for ourselves, a hybrid photo/journal that won't gather dust in an old picture album but can be reviewed at any moment from anywhere. Putting together these entries is time consuming and a bit laborious, but it's a fine alternative to piecing together photo albums at home after the experience has ended and faded some in memory and our busy regular lives at home resume. I have boxes of photos from previous trips that never made it to an album and have never been shared with those who might be interested - it will be nice not to face that situation in a few weeks.
With our whirlwind journey behind complete, it is fair to say that the attention of each of us has turned to the three weeks we have remaining in India and to reunions with friends and family as well as reintegration into our "normal" lives back home in America. How we'll view our home, our family, our community, our schools, and our daily existence in our first world country after having been in India remains to be seen. If our return to our home in Kerala after being in the north is any indication of the impact of living in contrasting worlds, our reintegration into our lives in the US should prove quite interesting. It will be important to keep our minds present here - three weeks will pass quickly and there is much more to experience if we are able to stay in the game and not conclude our experience before it is actually over.