Paris, Monday morning, fresh off an eight-hour flight from Minneapolis.
I took eight years of French, and yet I clam up when I have to order coffee, of all things. Pour vous madame? Un cafe. What kind of cafe? She’s on to me. They immediately switch to English when they smell fear. Black coffee. Filter coffee. Drip coffee? She’s not having it. Cafe americano? Well, um, sure, let’s go with that. Something sans lait. That’ll be two euros fifty, enjoy your half-filled Dixie cup of nescafe.
Bangalore, ten-ish hours later.
It strikes me as odd how familiar this place is. Even just the airport, even making my way from the plane through a long glass-walled walkway and down an escalator to the customs line. People around me are confused, which line is which? An airport employee makes the head bobble and says “Any line, sir.” I remember my first trip, anticipating being questioned about the reason for my visit, practicing my “I’m on vacation!” response to justify my tourist visa over the much more complicated student visas that they were sort of requiring for a time in 2011. This time, not so worried. I left the “address in India” line blank on my customs form, and the officer questions me. What hotel are you staying? No hotel, I’m staying with a friend. What is this friend’s address? He hasn’t told me. He’s picking me up. What is your friend’s name? I give him the name of the man who arranged my housing. This seems to satisfy him; my next step would have been to make up an address. None of it matters, really.
Gokulam, Mysore, 9:30am.
I’ve made it. Got in at 5:30ish, checked out the temporary digs– Indian toilet, check. Wall lizard, check. Tried to take a nap. I’ll have to get used to the dogs barking all over again, and the calls to prayer. Made myself sleep– or at least stay in bed– until eight so I could get to a cafe, have some proper coffee and breakfast, and do a little internet chatting with the husband. Check, check, check. Jet lag is here, taking the form of a fog of melancholy that I’m sure will wear off once I’ve hugged some old friends and heard “one more!” once more.
5pm, Anu’s Cafe.
First-day melancholy has subsided a little faster than I thought it would. I have a new (second) apartment, next door to where I’ll be moving in four days. Cleaner, quieter, smaller, brighter. It’s amazing how big a difference this makes. I’ve run into friends both accidentally and on purpose, and I’m registered for practice tomorrow. My start time is a sort of ridiculous mid-afternoon 11am, which I’m sure will change soon. Even with all the running around today, and the lack of any substantial sleep for the last 48 hours, I’m not feeling terribly tired– if I make it until 9pm tonight I’ll call that a win. Just a few post-smoothie errands to run and it’ll be like I never left.