My friend Sharon asked me if I was planning on writing something on the readjustment to Toronto and some of the differences between “here and there”. I realized that I had been running an internal dialogue all along so here goes….
Apart from the time difference which is substantial and takes quite some effort to overcome – interestingly only coming home, going out is never a problem for me – there is a vast gulf physically and emotionally. Life in India is lived out in the open, it is played out on railway stations, on streets and alleys, out in the countryside and emphatically in the cities. People eat, sleep, bathe and take care of bodily functions all within the sight of all the others doing the same thing. The press of humanity can be terrifying but it is all so matter of fact that after a bit you become accustomed. Then to return to Toronto where everything takes place behind the facades of people’s homes or businesses and there is no “life force” impact, seems almost sterile. In my perfect world there would be some of both I think. I love the vibrancy of India; the garbage and more intimate glimpses of others – not so much. I need the space and beauty of Canada; the sense of invisibility not at all.
I struggle with an emotional distinction as well but one that is not unique to India. When I travel, I am an interesting and interested woman. I feel more alive – people see me. I have a purpose, even if it is just to absorb impressions and ideas and people. When I return home, life becomes both more complex and less vibrant. Of course most of that is natural and indeed to be embraced but the simplicity of life on the road is very seductive for me.
We spend a great deal of our lives maintaining – maintaining our homes, our health, our relationships, our careers, lots of things and while those are necessary maintenances they shouldn’t be the the only focus in our lives