“We’re leaving everything behind,” the blonde haired little girl said in the glass elevator at the Brussels Midi train station. I laughed and made eye contact with her parents.
“That about sums it up,” I said.
I’m adjusting to having left India. I knew I’d have to adjust but I’m surprised at how it’s affecting me. Everything looks empty to me, even though it’s summer travel season. There’s so much empty space, even in a dense city like Brussels. Keller told me this would happen: where are all the people? The colors passing by the train window are the ones I’m familiar with. Everything looks so tidy, clean, sanitized. Everything has its place. I miss the chaos of Bangalore’s traffic (I never expected to say that!), I miss the colors of sarees and salwars and so many different kinds of people.
I do seem to have gotten over the “Hey! White people everywhere!” thing that hit me the first two days. Nobody stares at me for having red hair. I don’t miss that. But I do miss people, already. I miss the MSR contingent, my flatmates, my friends. I wonder whether it’ll be possible to make it back for Doors of Perception in Delhi, but I suspect the timing will be wrong… we won’t be on spring break yet. I’d consider not going to SXSW if it meant I could go to Delhi in March. At least Yashas and Jasmeen will be in the US in the fall. Maybe Abhishek will be convinced to visit graduate programs and stop off to see Zack. But getting a visa is a pain and travel to the States is so expensive.
* * *
Right now, I’m on the train to Düsseldorf, after taking the Eurostar from London. The trains and stations are full of groups of students with backpacks and sleeping bags. My time for that was 15 years ago–the summer of 1991, I criss-crossed Europe, from Stockholm to Italy, meeting up with friends before starting school in the Netherlands. For the first time since 1994, I have a Eurail pass in my bag. No backpack on this go (it’s at Ruth and Erez’s in London)–just my trusty Tumi all beaten up–and a Freitag bag with my laptop.
* * *
I am turning 35 in three months. This has hit me the last few days. Enrique turns 35 next week when we are in Minneapolis, on the 26th. I’m exactly three months younger. 35 is not very young. People seem entirely surprised when they find out that that’s my age. (The nice grandmother at the fabric store on Saturday in Bangalore thought I was the age of her 19 year old granddaughter! Granddaughter and I laughed about that.) My friend Dave, who I saw last night, was 35 when I met him. I thought that sounded older and somehow distinguished. He’s now 41. But I think this is the first birthday I’m freaking out about.