Two planes and seven hours later, we arrived in Udiapur. This is where I’ll spend the rest of my trip.
It was and still is an adjustment being here. It’s a beautiful city surrounded by lakes and one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.
Driving through the narrow market streets and arriving at our hotel, was like being transported to another world. It’s not just the clean air, green vegetation, warm breezes, natural and man-made beauty. It’s the other end of what we were doing in Kolkata.
I left my room and headed towards the familiar voices. Nadine, Kelly and Kiera were sitting on one of the many landings of the hotel which overlook the lake and mountains. The hotel is a labyrinth of stairs and doorways, hallways and balconies and rooftops.
I started to cry before I even got to them. In the past I would have hidden in my room and cried alone. But one of the important things I’ve learned on this trip is to really be myself. Even when I’m feeling like I don’t belong, instead of withdrawing I speak my truth, no matter how mundane it may seem to me or how vulnerable it makes me feel.
I need your help I said to them. This is all so beautiful, even decadent, I said I need you to help me understand why we’re here.
Our days in Kolkata were so filled they gave little time for me to absorb all that I was seeing and experiencing and feeling. Even though I wrote about it everyday, which helped me be thoughtful and understand my feelings, I was still living in a haze of busyness.
And now it was over. We weren’t going back to Kolkata, we weren’t visiting anymore organizations. The itinerary in Udiapur is for us to do what we want, to rest and journal and enjoy ourselves.
How do I go from the intensity and emotion, the purpose and meaning, to this kind of luxury.
Nadine took my hand. This place isn’t that nice she joked, you should see some of the really expensive hotels around here.
Then she and Kelly went on to explain the importance of this transition time.
Helping others is not about making ourselves suffer. If all we did was go to Kolkata and not see the other parts of India, the beautiful and hopeful parts, most of us wouldn’t want to come back.
And just seeing the horrors of a country is not an accurate picture. It would be like just going to the South Bronx and thinking that is what all of America is like, Nadine said.
I don’t want to be going back to the Untied States and believing Kolkata is India, not just a part of it.
They convinced me that this is an important time to embody all that I had experienced. To try and make sense of it and incorporate it into my life. It’s been a week of new intense and emotional experiences and that needs to be balanced.
This all made sense to me. And a part of me knew it was what they would say. It’s why I went to them.
And I can see it’s true. Since I got here I find myself crying for seemingly no reason. I know it’s cleansing, it’s my body, my mind and heart processing the past week.
And I can see that what I need to do now is allow myself to relax. To enjoy this other part of India and take care of myself. I want to come out of this experience enriched and whole, not broken.
Because I do know that I can’t help anyone, if I can’t help myself.
Last night, Dahn, Hannah, Kiera and I went to a Taylor to have sari’s made. (It costs $23 to have a shirt and skirt made. I got the fabric in the fair trade market in Bolpur for half that). It’s a tradition of the group to spend the last night having a sari party.
The sun is just just coming up here and I’m not sure what I’ll do today yet.
Writing this has already helped me understand and feel better. I’m going to try to take this day as it comes. To do what I feel like when I feel like.
I’ll be sure to take some pictures and let you know what happens.
( After being shown to our rooms, I tried to get back to the front desk to get the wifi password and I got lost. So I wandered around the maze of stairs and hallways and rooftops till I found my way. The video ends abruptly because Jon called me just as I got to my door and the video shut off. But I think it gives an idea of the wonder of the place.)