Welcome to India
It had all come to this. India was more than a geographical location on a map. It was more than a sub-continent that had collided with the Asian continent 50 million years ago and it was more than the home of one of the most ancient civilizations. India had become, in the past 9 months of my life, the focal point of everything. I succeeded in living momentarily, in not projecting a false future. However, there existed a very fine point when the dream was to become the way, and that point happened when the road opened before me and even the sky posed very few limitations.
It is at times like this I feel most alive. It's very easy to flip your existence onto 'auto-pilot' and dream as each task is scribbled off the list. Even though many of us dream to take the reigns and lead our own way...too often we fear our views, our choices and our understanding. We would much rather fall in line behind others, behind routines or concepts like 'destiny'.
The sensation of 'feeling alive' has happened for me at times when I've experienced great presence, and has been experienced when everything comes into focus. I've felt alive while falling down stairs, flying down a hill on a skateboard, performing music and fearing my life walking down sketchy streets. Here, in India, I feel alive because I have no idea about where I am.
I arrived in Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport with the clothes on my back and a few precious items I kept close. My baggage was left in Amsterdam I think, which caused me to have to hang around the Airport for two hours after landing. Two dozen of us were herded around and shoved into customs and I wasn't as devastated as I would have imagined myself to be in this situation. My band arrived in Europe once to find that we had neither van nor driver, why should this be different?
The airport was relatively empty beyond the baggage fiasco, except for a long line of armed guards. I walked down this lonesome corridor fearing the ride I had arranged had left... two hours ago. To my surprise just beyond the last cluster of soldiers I found myself stepping out into a wonderland of "lights...camera...action!'... well, without the camera.
The 'arrivals' section of the airport is in stark contrast of the utilitarian themed other sections. It was nearly immaculate and at 1:00am there were still hundreds of 'spectators' waiting for something or someone. The guard rails held the family members of 'arrival' passengers along with hotel transporters and solicitors. I certainly wouldn't have otherwise been prepared to handle this commotion other than before I left I received a 3 page e-mail warning me of tricks and con-men.
At first pass I couldn't find my driver. Two more passes still no luck. Then I was spotted as I left the safety of the guardrails, not by anyone who could really help, but by those I'd been warned against. I was the deer in the head-lights, I was the wounded gazelle. I was warned: don't let anyone call for you, don't let anyone give you a ride; and here I stood, in a sea of recruits, all pulling out their phone and dialing, tapping my arm and pointing at their cabs. All I could do was politely repeat "no thank you" as I fled back to my new home within those rails.
Eventually I did find my ride, but not after dozens of name cards were waived in my face. Each person didn't trust that I could read their cards, insisting, insisting by shaking those cards, that I must be mistaken.
No, I'm sorry, my name is not "Sarah Parker".