I’ve gone back and forth between Switzerland and India a dozen of times now. It’s funny, people think I’m a big traveller because “India”, but actually, aside from a handful of countries in Europe and a few trips to North America, it’s pretty much the only place I’ve been.
Leaving India has always been hard for me, as far as I can remember. In 2000 I had built a life there, I was 25, leaving people I loved and had a real connection to behind, heading back to a life in Switzerland which had gone on without me, where my parents had separated and my heart had finished being broken during my absence.
I’ve been going through some of my old posts to see what I’ve written about this in the past. It’s funny (and unsettling) to see how some of my memories from 20 years ago have warped. I can imagine as years go on, I’ll be happier and happier to have this written account of bits and pieces of my life. This is from 2004, my second trip back, and so is this post. (I’d forgotten how “dramatic” my journey home in 2001 had been.) In 2004, I was obviously planning to come back as soon as I could, but it would be 7 long years before that happened. 2011 was particularly difficult as Bagha had died shortly before my trip. 2012 had me writing about it again. And so on.
This time, grief and travel are also on the platter. Grief over my stepmom’s death but also not having the time I was so looking forward to with Aleika. It was a short trip for me, two weeks. I wasn’t in a very good place when I left Switzerland, I did manage to get a breath of fresh air in Rajasthan, but it was too short, and now I’m flung back where I was, struggling to find my balance, unpack my suitcase, reconnect with work and loss.
My stepmom would have liked Rajasthan. But she’s not there to hear about it, and I felt that acutely during my trip. I would have liked to show her things. I think that for me, a large part of the pleasure of travel is sharing it with others. And that went and pressed painfully on my loss.
I don’t like transitions. I never have. They’re always stressful. The added understanding I have about certain specificities of how I function, since diagnosis, have helped me make sense of this. There’s maybe a little personal history in there too, but mainly, I just think that context changes are hard for me. I know it’s often hard for people to understand how I can react and perform well in a crisis (talk about a change in context) but simply taking myself from home-in-my-flat to home-in-the-chalet can be complicated. But that’s how it is. And India-to-Switzerland is definitely a major transition, loaded with history af good-byes with no certainty about the future.
One thing India has maybe also brought me that I struggle to find here is a different pace of life, a different sense of time. In my life here, I find it difficult to slow down. Even when I try to slow down, I’m still running around, still putting myself under a lot of pressure to do a lot of things (desired and less desired). In India, there is more waiting, there is more lateness, there is more unexpected that makes planning complicated (so you do it less), things take more time. At least, that’s what I experience. In India, I get a lot of downtime. Now, is it India or is it holidays? The two are linked, anyway. Leaving India behind when I return from a trip is also leaving behind a certain taste of life that I need more of here, but so often fail to achieve.
My body is slowly drifting back to Switzerland. I didn’t get up too early this morning, and as I write, the clock is ticking and it’s going to be time to get ready for work. I’ll leave these words here, and thank you for reading – and thank this trip to India for reconnecting me to my blogging keyboard again.