One of my editors, a quiet but efficient engineer from Singapore, wrote to me when he heard I was in India. Apart from warning me to always brush my teeth with mineral water, he said ‘India is a place I am always excited to go to – and then, once I’ve been there, I’m always excited to go home’. It made me laugh at the time, but it’s about the best summary of this trip I could’ve come up with. I’ve never seen anything like the chaos here – it’s like living inside a life-sized anthill (actually a lot of really big ants live here too). And without being too learn-and-grow about the whole thing, I will say it’s taught me something about accepting the value of other people’s perspective. While India certainly has more than its fair share of development problems, its people are resilient and have an immensely complicated religious and social history of their own. It’s been a privilege to be here, to see other people living their lives in entirely different circumstances to my own, to be reminded that billions of people live in what was until now unimaginable squalor, yet manage to be pretty happy about it all the same.
But oh, the wind that fills my sails blows from home (as someone said – um – somewhere: one of the great annoyances of this trip has been remembering fragments of poetry and not being able to look them up). An evening in an empty hotel room is not the thrill ride you’d expect, and all the quirky encounters in the world can’t make up for the fact that leaving home and husband behind feels like trying to function without an arm, or some other similarly vital body part. It’s been great. But I’ve had enough – I’m going to pack up my stuff now and come home.