day by day india: first impressions

Addu in describing Bangalore, India in general spoke about amora and its arresting invasion of the senses. Senses that is how you experience a foreign land, through sight and sound, touch and taste.  The first thing I notice is that Bengalaru airport is silent, meditatively quiet. Yes, I know it is just past three in the morning but there is something calming about seeing people through glass but hearing the sound of birds fluttering above the hangars,  catching glimpses of fireflies dancing in the flood lights, the scent of curry and a dozen spices I cannot identify permeating the air.

Exhausted, I am parched in dire need of water walking past Shiva gods placed (strategically?) near entryways and exits, there is no kiosk or boutique selling food in sight. I make my way to the carousel and find by bag quickly and immediately queue up to customs, where the crowd is a brown ombre wave. We all fall in, standing behind the yellow lines with cursive writing warning us to "Stop. Stay here to wait your turn." The agents ahead stoically great each tourist and resident, processing their papers. When I realize I am in line #13 I feel a peaceful presence, mom is with me today on this journey. It hits me like a tidal wave, remembering all those 13 years lost, all the time we could have spent on adventures like this. The irony that it is Mother's Day does not escape me, though it does remind me that today is also my Dad's 88th birthday and I find comfort in having left him a card and a gift just before leaving.

Past customs there is yet another security checkpoint, this one to screen your hand baggage lest you have something dangerous hidden in the bag all these hours while in flight. I see one lone metal knife on the floor camouflaged in the rug, a stolen souvenir from an Emirates flight. Out in baggage claim I locate my trusty navy LL Bean suitcase with brown piping, recognizable by the cursive "Lucy" stitched on the front cover and a snowflake pompom tied to its handle. While waiting I see a sign for a bridal jewelry store I see a reference to "seven vows" and contemplate what that could mean.  A woman in her mid-30s is also waiting for luggage and she is wearing a modern embroidered fashion set and nude platform stilettos. My feet ache looking at her. Despite all the people around the area is silent, and save the whirr of the carousel itself and the beep from the strobe lights it is eerily quiet.

Entering the main greeting area there is a swarm of people flush against the gate, some searching my face others waving a sign in hoping I am the name on it. I hear Addu before I see her, it is an emotional reunion. Whether it is exhaustion or emotional fatigue I cannot tell you but it as if we have not seen each other in years, not weeks. Some friendships are like that where the depth of care and the absence of time, truly reiterate the solidity of the relationship. Advaitha, Claudia, Lisa. It's these female friendships that give us strength.

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