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Amanda: Coming Home

May 30, 2011

Something I have been putting off to write.  Because I don’t really want to believe I’ve landed home yet.

I could go Life of Pi on you:
On my journey home a tornado hit the Delhi airport and all of the computer systems there crashed.  Since I never printed a boarding pass, airport attendants tried to deny the validity of my ticket.  Since the airport turned chaos thanks to the threat of dangerous weather, piercing screams by angry Indian women, and a food shortage, I bypassed security by taking an unguarded back door to the luggage room.  I threw away some extra kurtas and curled myself into my suitcase.  I overheard attendants speaking in Hindi and grunting as they loaded me through a tunnel: “This bag is supposed to weigh 23 kilos?  Bullshit!”  Somehow the pilot made the decision to fly despite previous weather concerns.  Once aboard the plane, I vomited thrice; bags below passengers aren’t secured very tightly.  I did, however, sleep well in my dark cocoon of a suitcase.  Careful not to break the hookah I was bringing home to share with my friends, I curled up in the fetal position and rested my neck on a rolled-up pair of sweatpants India’s steamy climate prevented me from wearing since January.  When the plane landed in Newark, I quickly found a way to escape before some pretentious American worker claimed me to be a terrorist.  While straightening my clothes and re zipping my bag, I did meet an Indian-American man in the room where luggage is stored before it boards the luggage transfer tram to change terminals.  Though I initially feared he would rat me out, after I described my plight to him in Hindi, he gave me his number and told me to call him if I was ever in New York.  With disheveled hair I boarded my connecting flight to Charlotte, then to Greenville.  No conversations with strangers.  No awkward American re-entry experiences.  Just me, and the wonder of my journey home.  When I finally met my parents on the other side of the Greenville airport, we shared a hug and a smile.  After four months in India, I was finally home.

Or, if you want a story that is more believable:
I paid too much for a taxi to take me to the airport in Delhi.  When I arrived and figured out where to go, my suitcase was 14 kilos overweight.  I scrambled to find another carry-on bag, transferred the scarves, tubes of mehndi, and hookuh I brought for my friends into it, and sweet talked the Continental attendant in Hindi to allow my suitcase to be a few kilos over the limit.  I made it through security with no problems.  I used my last 100 rupees to buy a McVeg in the food court.  I fell in love with an five year old boy waiting for the same flight as me who spoke perfect English and shared a picnic supper of chapati and palak paneer with his parents.  His dad whispered to his wife in Hindi and answered the boy’s many queries in English.  I slept well on the plane since there was an empty seat between me and an Ecuadorian-American woman from Newark who travelled to India because she’d always wanted to see the Taj Mahal.  I arrived in America 4 am, Easter morning.  A taxi driver offered to carry me all the way home to Carolina in his yellow sedan.  There were so many Indians in the airport.  I met a 30-something Indian who immigrated to the states 10 years ago.  I was the first American he’d ever met who chose to go to India.  I talked about Jesus to a couple on their way to the Bahamas on my connector flight to Charlotte.  I drank a coffee that was damn good.  I walked through the doors of the Greenville airport to see my parents.  My brother loaded my suitcase into my dad’s car.  My family drove me home…

Believe what you will.  As for me, I may have been home for the past month, but the journey continues…

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