The upcoming November would have marked the eighth year anniversary of our last visit. It had been nearly eight years since I had last seen my cousin, aunts, and uncles. Was I really going back now?
The trip still had a dream-like quality as I sat in the flight connecting us from Taipei to Delhi. To my left sat my mom and to my right, my grandmother and younger sister. Only my grandmother had traveled to this beloved nation in the last several years.
The flight time dwindled down to sixty minutes and my excitement began to mount to dangerously high levels. The pilot eased the large jet onto the landing strip as big, fat droplets began to splatter the windows. I giggled at the absurdity of the situation. Not only was I in India but it was raining.
Sunshine may not have been on the forecast but heat definitely was. The moment we stepped out of the temperature-controlled airplane, we were assaulted by 90° F heat and humidity so high it weighed you down. However, the heat and the humidity were all of little importance. All that mattered was that I was here and here was India.
Everything was beautiful. Perhaps not Webster’s definition of beautiful but, nonetheless, I drank in everything as if it were made of gold. I was not searching for reminders of home but, instead, eagerly looking for things that screamed “India”. I was delighted by the loud, reckless driving, the roadside “dhabas”, the parrots, the rice fields. As we arrived in our village home in Punjab, I quickly realized that this was no Seattle, Washington and I loved it.
Memories were made at record speeds in those twenty-two days as we played in monsoon rains, slept under stars, fainted in clothing shops, milked water buffaloes, and taught all six of our beloved cousins how to play Spoons. My sister and I did not care for sightseeing, visiting relatives, and eventually, even, shopping. We preferred staying home because at home were our six cousins: Kulwinder, Jaswinder, Manjinder, Jyoti, Lakhwinder, and Gurwinder. Their companionship is perhaps the greatest treasure we found there. They were always giving and eager to serve, loving us far beyond anything we could have hoped for. As our relationship with them strengthened, we knew that leaving them would be excruciatingly difficult. Sooner than welcomed, our departure date arrived. However, we were not going back to the States but to southern India.
As much as we loved our village family, we had more family waiting in Hyderabad. Therefore, we flew down to stay with our cousins, Manisha and Manveer, for ten days. In those ten days, we also fell in love with them as they showed us the exact same tender love we had received back in Pone Kothe village. If twenty-two days were too few, then ten days passed in the blink of an eye. The four of us were soon being ushered onto a six hour flight to Taipei, to be followed by an eleven and a half hour flight to Seattle.
Over seventeen hours is a lot of time to reflect. The reflecting was profitable, however, as I realized how perfect God’s timing is. This vacation had come at the perfect time in my life, the summer before my senior year. With my graduation and coming of age just around the corner, this trip to India reconnected me to my roots, caused me to reassess my values and question my gratitude level. By disconnecting myself from my comfortable world, I was able to find a little bit of myself.
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