Monday, December 24, 2007

Was India a Dream?

The postings on this site ares my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

A Full Chandra (Moon) Over My Right Shoulder

How would I know the word, "chandra," if it had been just a dream? And yet, even as spooked as I am by the fiber-optic, frighteningly-fast Internet access I have here from my home in Montclair, it feels almost like it never happened.

This morning, I woke up at 4:30 am, having fallen into bed at 9:30 pm without having remembered to eat dinner. In my home office, the calendar on the wall was the June page, so it must have happened that I was away for six months.

"The New York Times" slapped against the driveway just now, though it's still dark out. In Bangalore, it would be light by now and I'd just open the front-door on either side of which a carved, wooden elephant-head was mounted, to a short walkway lined with roses and hibiscus flowers; I'd hear the maids in the kitchen of the house across the street and I'd bend over to pick up our copy of "The Times of India," which was a racier version of "USA Today."

We could have subscribed to the "Deccan Herald," or "Economic Times," both more respectable publications, but the owner had subscribed to this paper, and besides, how else would we know all the Bollywood celebrity gossip?

This morning, I'll need to put on my down jacket and a hat and mittens to retrieve the paper from the dark, wet asphalt; there was snow on our lawn when we returned at 11:30 pm on Saturday night, but the non-stop rain of yesterday washed most of it away. I won't hear my neighbors when I walk outside because our houses are further apart and because it's too cold for the windows to be open.

I'll come back in the house and will try to remember to kiss the mezuzah. Our mezuzah and Vikram's (the owner's) elephant-heads -- they're fundamentally different from one another, yet both appear at the entrance to our homes. In our case, we also have a mezuzah on every doorway in our house, other than bathroom and closet doors.

"Domestic harmony and success" both are associated with Ganesh, according to the eBay page I found when I went hunting for "carved, wood elephant head," so I could learn Vikram's purpose at posting them.

The Ravi (Sun) Also Rises

The chandra's starting to dip below the trees and it's light out now.

Thinking of all the non-western moments I experienced over the past six months, I'm at a loss at how to integrate them gracefully into my current experience. I was about to write about my current experience as being like the experience I had prior to going to India -- waking up and getting the paper, going to the plentiful grocery store to buy whatever I wished, talking to U.S. neighbors and family freely without worrying about time-zone issues -- but I realize that those experiences are not the same now. I will never not know about India in parallel with how I live each day in the United States.

I was trying to figure out why I didn't yet (might never?) feel graceful and articulate about my India sojourn and I found some solace in these famous travel quotations. The one that struck me especially was, "If an ass goes traveling, he'll not come home a horse." -- Thomas Fuller.

Fundamentally, I'm still me, but with some new colleagues, friends, work accomplished, rituals witnessed, sights seen, bits of another language learned, pools swum in, clothes, books, jewelry, gifts and a rug (which was shipped, and which hasn't yet arrived).

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