Kolkata Diary. Fear and Excitement. What’s Real?

It’s about a week and a half till I leave for India.

Yesterday I packed  my bag.

A practice pack really, to make sure I have enough room for everything I want to bring with me.  Since it’s about 80 degrees in Kolkata this time of year, my clothes only took up half the suitcase.

The other half has 10 canvas tote bags, child safe, permanent markers, the fabric Dahn brought me back from Africa, to bring on this trip.   I also have some more fabric that was sent to me from some of you and  thread and pins.

My idea is to give the markers and canvas tote bags to the children in the day care, which is one of the places I’ll be visiting.   The children’s mother’s are sex workers, by choice.    They bring their children to this free day care so they don’t have to be in the room while their mothers are working.

When the kids are there, they make things like paper shopping bags, decorated with  flowers, to sell.  I thought if the kids drew on the canvas totes, they could sell them too.  Or  I could even buy them from the kids and sell them on my site when I get back.   I don’t know  if any of this will happen, but I’m bringing it all with me anyway.

Along with packing, I made copies of my passport and plane tickets and all those important papers I’ll need.

Yesterday morning, I stood at the dining room table looking at my copies of copies, and froze.  “How ya doing out there?”  Jon yelled to me from his study.  I asked him if he could feel my panic.  “All the way in here,” he said.

Jon stopped writing and came to help me sort the copies into piles and put them in my various bags and pockets, leaving more copies  at home.  All of this and, of course, they’re on my phone and computer too.

And that’s all these important papers are.  Copies,  printouts from my computer.

Somehow I still expect a ticket to look like something more than just a xerox.  The same with my visa.  I actually forwarded a copy of my visa to Jenny who works for the group I’m traveling with.  “Is this  really my visa?” I asked.   I just want to make sure.

Because I expected something more official.  Fancy type maybe,  on a heavy piece of paper, with a gold seal at the top.  My visa, which I can’t travel to India without,  looks like a copy of a receipt.  I made so many copies of it, I used the extras  to start a fire in the wood stove.

This isn’t a bad thing, less chance of losing them all.  It just all seems so flimsy.  So unsubstantial. Somehow unreal.

And I made all these plans, acquired all my “important papers” and only spoke to one human being (Dahn), one time.

That hit home today.  Now that my bag is packed (mostly), my list of things I need down to two or three items (deodorant, more protein bars) and my important papers are in order,  I  felt like I need to hear a human voice.  Someone who was  connected with the trip and knew for sure that this was all real and not just a bunch of printouts from my computer.

So I called Dahn.

She immediately put me at ease.  Something in hearing her voice.

Yes, we were really going to be in India in two weeks at this time.  It was going to be wonderful and overwhelming.  We would do good work and meet people whose souls shine.  And we will shine with them.  On the last day when we rest and recuperate in Udaipur and  I’ll be drooling over the fabrics in the markets there.

The closer I get to leaving for India, the more excited I am.  I also have my moments of anxiety.  Moments of fear.  But my fears are mostly irrational.   They revolve around my feelings of incompetence.  That I’ll forget my visa, or that I made my fight for the wrong day.

But I also know something about myself by now.  I’m always nervous before the event, whatever it may be.  But once I’m there, once it’s happening,  all the fear and anxiety vanishes.

I’ve also notice that neurotic fear and excitement feel the same in my body.  So it’s  a matter of switching the way I’m thinking, more than what I’m feeling.   Turning the my fear to excitement.


7 thoughts on “Kolkata Diary. Fear and Excitement. What’s Real?

  1. Maria, I’m not nervous for you, I’m so very thrilled and excited for you and all the wonderful experiences you will have.
    Then you will return home and tell all of us about your incredible trip!

    1. Yes Nancy! That’s what I like to hear! And I’ll be blogging from India as well as when I get home. So you can read and see all about it. Thank you!

  2. Since I am an armchair traveler, with no anxiety or worries, I closed my eyes to see into your trip. Here’s my view: The first sensation when you arrive will be the warm, humid air enveloping your skin and senses. Kinetic energy from the multitudes of people bustling through vibrant streets, wafts of street foods and glorious curry smells, kindling a new appetite. Sitars and beggars play for your attention, wondering what took you so long to arrive. And the colors–oh, the luscious colors and silks beckon your tactile approval. You are here, now, breathe it all in and spread your magic to awaiting open hearts. ENJOY!

  3. I can so relate to conflicting feelings about your upcoming travels.
    My whole life, and I’m well into my third act, I confidently make marvelous and
    sometimes pricy plans. But as the event or trip draws near I am filled with dread and
    regret at having made the commitment. Many times I would have backed out and stayed home if not for purchased plane tickets and/or hefty nonrefundable deposits. My daughter is
    the same way. Perhaps it is not he introverts way. But over and over I have been so happy to have gone forward
    even when doing so was uncomfortable. Happy trails!

  4. Oh,I don’t know if I should suggest it here, but you could also bring a couple of boxes of condoms, they are expensive and the women probably won’t have money to purchase them…ahem…
    Even my colleagues at university asked (quietly) if I could mail some once or twice a year. Now that Trump has cancelled contributions for family planning clinics it’ll be even worse for women in developing countries to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies or diseases….just a thought.
    A poster of the tough broad – absolutely wonderful idea, Maria, I would love to have a copy, please. But first, go out there and make incredible and long-lasting memories of India. Love, Sabina

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