Coming off the plane into India had been a rush of pure chaos. We shuffled into buses that would transport us to the building. People crowded, elbow to elbow, pushing and shoving. My luggage was lost. I was told to stand in the corner, along with a handful of others, who, interestingly, were all foreigners like me who had also "lost" their luggage. But here in this strange land, you don't ask questions. You won't be answered anyway. You just patiently wait. Here in America, a smile works wonders. In India, don't bother.
With luggage in hand, exhaustion creeping through my veins like heavy weights, I couldn't even allow myself to be nervous when I was stopped by security. He held a mean gun and a meaner expression. In my mind I asked myself, "What the hell now?" My mind lazily wrapped around what he wanted from me. But all he asked was, "Where are you from?" I answered, "America."
He waved me past. The poor fellow behind me wasn't so lucky as he was asked to unzip his bag.
As I stepped through the double doors, it is nothing but lights, camera and chaos. This would be the closest I would ever get to walking the red carpet at a film festival. Oh...but it wasn't for me. I should add that. Hundreds of people lined the security gates, which kept them a hundred feet from the building exit. It was like the last one-hundred feet I would take before I entered a whole new world. There was no turning back. This was it.
I took a deep breath and dragged my heavy luggage to the opening in the gate. Placards were thrust in my face. They were yelling at me. Taking my picture. I ignored them. I step outside the gate. I am immediately approached but can't understand what I am being asked. And then my friend saves me, only to yell at me for not waiting inside the safety of the gate. I hadn't realized how dangerous it was. I was starting to get an idea...I wasn't in peaceful Ohio anymore.
Lack of sleep was catching up to me. My feet ached. My head throbbed from the strong odors and pollution. And by the time I slid into the backseat of the cab, I was in much need of rest.
But who was I to complain?
I reminded myself, this country did not invite me here. I came on my own free will. I was a guest. And I was glad to be here. I wanted this experience. I wanted to face challenge and accomplish something. I wanted to stretch the boundaries. I wanted....well, I wasn't sure what I wanted. I just knew that back home I was close to a severe meltdown. Divorce can do that to a person. I needed to find myself.
And in the next days that followed I would find so much more than I had ever expected...