When we travel internationally we try to book 3 weeks, given the typically long flights involved. By the time I get to the middle of that last week I am usually beginning to feel homesick for my dogs, bed, food, cool breezes at night coming through open windows–all that good stuff of normal life. Sometimes I’m even beginning to miss work!
Reentry is usually a fog of jet lag and general fatigue for a few days, and then I’m back, with all kinds of resolutions to organize my photos (rarely done), a big box of souvenirs and gifts to be distributed in the corner of the bedroom, and a return to digestive and sleep normality.
Coming back from India had a few aspects that surprised me a little.
To be clear, we don’t live out in the country, but rather in a medium sized city that sits in the middle of a pretty large metropolitan area. Traffic, trains, and the rest of the urbanized commotion are the background of our lives.
- I never realized before just how quiet it is here. Coming back from the airport was like gliding along in a dream, seemingly silently though I know there were real noises–they just couldn’t penetrate my armored consciousness. Cars changed lanes, melding into the flow of traffic without scary near misses or horn announcements “I’m about to move;” “I moved;” “I am now past you.” Eery. When you honk your horn in the US it’s because someone is backing out into your car, not because you’re, well, driving. And after five days, we are still noticing the peaceful state of the streets and freeways.
- I was struck by how intrusive it is to understand what people around me are saying. Walking through the farmers’ market the day after we arrived, snatches of conversations interrupted my thoughts, my interior monologue, and my conversation with my husband. English words kept barging in on us. Parents talking to their kids, questions to vendors, adult conversations around us seemed almost rude! Jee, keep it to yourself, would you? Our last few trips abroad have been to Spanish-speaking countries where I do catch a fair bit of the talking around me, but in India the only words I understood were greetings, yes, and no. The rest was atmospheric, not communicative. I miss that privacy–not following what everyone is saying around you means you concentrate thoroughly on your own experience.
- We surely missed home-cooked and just plain homey food, and one of the first things I had thought I craved was a tunafish salad sandwich. But it didn’t really taste that good–mild and salty at the same time. Last night I made pad Thai for the first time because I wanted something “different.” I am going to go for roast chicken tonight, our most typical dinner. Maybe that will snap me out of it and get my palate back to normal!
All that aside, it sure is nice to be greeted by wagging tails and licks every time we enter a room and, it appears, our dogs are happy all over again to see we’re home.