I’ve fallen into a slump in communication. I feel like I exist in a pocket universe, connected to but not aligned with the our own. Time zones have thrusted my world into a twilight zone of lags and logs as I play emotional hopscotch with those who matter most to me. But with all games, sometimes things fall through the cracks; pieces are lost over time; substitutes are made that just don’t fit as well as the original. It’s hard to finish a puzzle when something is missing.
On that note, the first of many celebrations looms on the horizon. Fall has truly begun although the weather here bears no indication of cooling down. I imagine the leaves are changing back home. Green aspens slowly paint over with golds, reds, and oranges like wildfire across the canopies. I celebrate my twenty-first birthday in five days. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. And then what? Nothing. I’ve never liked my birthday. Some say that it’s a selfish point of view but I think its been long since established that selfish is something I am contented to be. Some see it as a spotlight, the limelight casting a warm glow on their debut once a year as crowds cheer and echo with praise; others see it as a search light, the wind whipping at them as the blinding beam of the police helicopter pins them against the wall. There is no escape. Caught.
I’ve thought about the different ways I might celebrate my birthday here. I’ve thought about doing nothing; letting it float past like a flower on the Ganga, drifting with the current. My host mother has offered to dress us girls- Emily, Grace, and I- up in saris and take us to dinner. I can’t help but laugh at the thought of my long legs in her clothes but she assures me she can wrap it to fit me. I’ve considered breaking the rules and doing my best to find a drink. What is a 21st birthday without a toast after all? I figure there’s a 50/50 shot I might not recover from whatever mixed drink I could get at a bar here. I have an inkling I wouldn’t want a straight shot if I found one… There are worse ways to go.
I’ve also considered swimming in the Ganga for my birthday. I can feel my mother cringe upon reading this but hear me out. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. People dream their whole lives of going to the Ganges, bathing in the waters, of feeling the cool blue washing over them just once. That’s all they ask. They pilgrimage from all over the world to slowly drip cool clear liquid of the Ganga over their heads in the hopes of serenity, purity, freedom, peace. I don’t believe that this water can cure my ailments but I do believe that there are things worth doing in life; things worth taking risks over. This experience is one. To know that I lived here, that I had the chance to grasp this opportunity in my hands, to dive into its depths, to feel the current tug at my body, and that I let it dribble through my fingers like rain from the monsoon would be heartbreaking. If something like this isn’t worth taking a risk over, then what is?
Besides… whats the worst thing that could happen?
Death. Death is the worse thing. But checking the score board, I haven’t died yet. That is over a lifetime though, not just over India.
So that’s in my favor. Scaling down the survey range to include near death incidents just in India on the other hand….
Near Death Laney
I’ve had a pretty wild last couple of weeks. To put it in summary, there was an incident with some monkeys that I do not think would have hurt me but others are convinced that I am lucky to be unscathed. They were very sweet; we looked each other in the eyes and I walked away unharmed so I stand by it.
Then there was an incident with a cow and a horn that resulted in an actual injury to my person but again, I claim no malicious intent from the cow but Em and Grace are not to be convinced. A small piece of advice… watch the horns. I stand by that I am still secretly a Disney Princess and that the animals are simply saying hello. Twenty-one is like the max age for Disney princessdom so I’m not quite out of the job yet. I can still claim my rightful title as whisper of misfits and baby creatures who do love me. It’s the human ones who don’t care all that much for me… But then again, I’m not exactly lady like enough to fit the bill. Fire swallowing might disqualify me for the crown. I feel like pyromania isn’t a desired quality in a ruler.
For those of you who don’t check Instagram, I ate fire the other day on a tour with my host mom. It’s called fire paan. Needless to say, it was an unnecessary risk on my part and I would do it again without hesistation. Fucking fire, man. That may be the pinnacle of sketchiness thus far. Fire, mystery ingredients that may or may not have been illegal, ice that is forbidden, all wrapped in a leaf from a guy on the street who stuck his fingers in my mouth. Sanitation-wise I’m trying not to think about it. I will admit I was very sick following the incident… for the next two days. 15/10 would still do again.
I also had a nice allergic reaction this week to gods only know what this week… That was fun. My skin still feels kind of like a Hershey’s cookies ’n’ creme bar days later. If it happened in the US I would probably be concerned about how it affected my complexion but here it doesn’t matter because I’m red and sweaty no matter what I do. It’s kind of freeing. I’ve taken the “just rolled out of bed look” to whole new heights. If you thought my style was lazy at school, its reached transcendent levels here. I like it.
Speaking of school. Its time I throw some education up in this shit. I wanted to be a good little nerd and write about school, classes, and our outings because I am the kid who picked the field trip based study abroad program. That’s right, I have school board approved fun on a regular basis. Grab your designated buddy and strap on your juice boxes because its gonna be a wild ride.
But the thing is, I don’t have time to describe my adventures with the detail and skill that would meet my satisfaction. And so, if I can’t do it right I’m not going to do it at all. If only I could treat my exams the same way…
But seriously, the school is actually real here. We go to class and have tests and everything. Unfortunately, my motivation tends to melt with the heat. It’s hard to focus on nature worship when I can feel myself wilting like plants around me in the heat. I would much rather be swimming in the Ganga than reading about it if just to cool down… I won’t (yet). I have been warned that I will burn upon entering as it is holy water. My point is that in the great scoreboard of life:
As I mentioned above, I have tests, papers, and quite possibly my death looming on the horizon. Until next time,
(my name phonetically in Hindi)