I left Boston on August 16 in the evening for my three flights to Pune, India. Bidding my family goodbye, I dove into the TSA ocean at Logan airport.
The flight from Boston to Paris went smoothly–only 5 and a half hours. As we took off from Boston the sun was glowing red, casting reflections of the buildings into the glassy Atlantic. I watched out the window as the red sun finally winked beneath the horizon.
“See you soon!” it seemed to call out playfully.
Approaching Paris at 8 a.m. the following morning, the sun came into view again. This time the light pink of a sunrise. We had each circled a piece of the globe and met up again in a new country. While the sun had seen the midwest, California, Hawaii, Japan, and Eastern Europe, I had traveled over the Atlantic, across England and above Spain.
In Paris I stopped for a quick bite to eat before boarding the next flight from Paris to Delhi.
I slept. Boy, did I sleep. I don’t even remember taking off. I even used those complimentary eye covers that look so silly to make sure I really got some rest. They must have been a pretty effective “don’t-bug-me” mechanism because when I took them off to adjust, the woman in the seat next to me asked if she could slip out to go to the bathroom with a pained expression on her face as if she’d been waiting for hours.
In Delhi, I met up with some of the other program participants. One by one we found each other. We weren’t too difficult to spot: confused, American, college students wandering tiled floors amidst crowds of Indians traveling domestically stand out like snowmen in the summertime.
Our final flight was only two hours long and soon we were on the ground in Pune.
Outside the warm dirty air, felt refreshing to our outdoor-deprived bodies. After over 2 days spent in airports and on airplanes, our standards were fairly low.
We followed the woman with the “ACM” sign and loaded our suitcases into the bus before journeying onward. The driver zipped through the streets, dodging motorcycles and pedestrians on both sides and almost purposefully ignoring the red lights that we consistently treated as green. The gray streets and trash-lined sidewalks set against the bright colors of women’s saris and children’s dresses reminded me of Kathmandu.
I loved Kathmandu when we visited last month, but to be honest, I wasn’t as enchanted with the city as I had hoped I would be. The crowds and the smog weren’t as appealing in person as they had been from behind my computer screen and the hacking cough that started after only 24 hours wasn’t my favorite either. So when my mind immediately drew the connection to Kathmandu, I waited for that not-so-impressed feeling to set in…but it didn’t.
Something is different here. It doesn’t smell so bad for one. The traffic is not as hectic (although by American standards, it would make any traffic-obeying citizen wet their pants). And there seems to be less overt poverty. Not that I can draw any conclusions yet. It’s only been a few hours after all!
And now…I continue my struggle to stay awake. Jet lag will not defeat me.