Cesare Pavese once said “traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.” Here in India, I think I’m beginning to understand what he meant.
The time difference here is eleven hours and thirty minutes ahead of my family back in the United States, and please don’t ask me how the “thirty minutes” thing got involved because it pains my brain to think about it. My point: communicating effectively with people half way around the world is often very difficult. Email tends to work out best, as it doesn’t require both parties to be awake at the same time. Skype and phone calls, however, are often more complicated to arrange and require you to rely on having electricity or access to the Internet at given times … and in the area I’m currently staying at near the forests of West Bengal, one can never rely on stable electricity or Internet access. Luckily my family and friends back home have been very understanding of dropped Skype calls and my frequent M.I.A. status. The unpredictable circumstances makes it quite easy to “lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends.” This is where adaptation comes into play. I’m glad to have met many close friends in my program – friends who can relate to the things I’m experiencing here because they’re experiencing the very same things. We find comfort in each other, and suddenly “home” feels like less of a physical place. “Home” is now wherever I am, so long as I am with people I care about. I agree with Pavese that traveling can be brutal – a beautiful brutality that forces you to read by candlelight instead of spend time on Facebook. I wouldn’t have it any other way.