Posted by: janpierce | January 7, 2011

Jet-lagged Reflections

      It’s always wonderful to return home after a long visit in India. I foolishly hope I’ll be able to sleep on the planes, fully knowing I never will. I also hold out hope that I’ll escape the days and days of strange sleeping patterns and the fuzzy brain that isn’t quite firing on all cylinders. The reality is that I can’t sleep on airplanes while sitting in economy chairlets and I will have to go through the jet-lags. Rats.
Here’s another thing. When I first get home I can still clearly picture the streets of India with their red dirt, the garbage, the dogs, the water buffalo being herded through the city and all the colorful saris, the beautiful dark skin tones of the people and the whole mix of another culture. Things at home look stark and paved over. Yes, it’s cleaner, but it’s a bit sterile too. I don’t exactly miss the things of India when I first get home, but I see the contrasts between two worlds more clearly. Before long, the pictures of India dim in my mind and I’m “home” again. It’s fine—I love my life here, but I always go through the withdrawals and re-entries anyway.
Last night I gallantly held out on bedtime until 8:30. Then some crazy woman with an accent wanted to lead me through a survey at 9:30 at night. By the time I hung up on her and got back to sleep I was only able to stay asleep until 2:00 a.m. I finally got up at 4:00, realizing that sleep was not to be and that I was hungry. So we ate breakfast just after 4:00 and watched the 4:30 a.m. local news. Those poor saps have to get up about 2:30 every morning and they looked like it too. It made me sleepy just to look at them with their puffy eyes. We were kindred spirits today. Now it’s two in the afternoon and I’m plowing through stacks of bills, letters, Christmas cards and other papery junk. I could swear it’s about bedtime again.
   Here are some things I love coming home to: warm clean showers without buckets, soft mattresses, brushing my teeth with tap water, cars that stay in their own lanes, lightbulbs that are bright enough to really see in the mirror. Things I miss about India: beautiful dark-skinned people, bright colorful clothing, lots of smiles on faces as people walk with friends down the streets, children in uniforms, the boys with ties and the girls in braids, roti, chapatti, nan, and other flatbreads, white cranes perched on stark trees near rice paddies, the simple daily tasks of life happening before your eyes: grinding spices, rolling out chapatti, cleaning vegetables, cooking on an open fire–it’s very primitive and very satisfying. I often think of life in India as a permanent camping trip. Inconvenient, yes, but exciting and vibrant and full of interesting things to see every minute of every day.

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