Monday, April 18, 2011

Happy Journey

{Or, A Birthday Bus Ride Home}



Saturday the 16th was my 29th birthday. I spent the day away from my sweetheart, taking down the show at Threshold Gallery in New Delhi and sweating entirely through my shirt and (only pair of) pants because they wouldn't turn on the AC and Delh is getting h-o-t. My always-chipper SUPER/POWER collective ya-ya Carrie Fonder and I schlepped across the city to FedEx with a hundred pounds of artwork, got ripped off by a taxi driver, and finally, finally, I boarded the Jaipur bus with a giant duffel of my paintings and made my way home. Home, through the the outskirts of humid Delhi, past the endless jungles of re-bar, cement and so many faceless men, past the sprawling villages and their nighttime cows eating garbage, and finally into the dusty grasp of the Thar Desert. Home. Which is a funny thing, that word.



Silently enjoying a birthday dosa dinner all alone at a midway rest stop in a country where one doesn't speak the language is, actually, a very reflective way for this blogger to spend her 29th birthday in India. Back on the bus and sitting next to a diminutive, gentlemanly Muslim grandfather who endured all seven hours of the trip with his arthritic knobby hands placed plainly and patiently on his arthritic knobby knees, I thought about all the things I'm grateful for. I also thought about how I wish I'd worked harder learning Hindi this year. I thought about how much I cherish and miss my sisters and friends back home in the US. And yet how I've been happy, for the most part, living in this marvelously crazy place. I thought about how I hope I can translate the simplicity of our Indian life into a good, purposeful, meaningful life when I move to New York. Most of all I thought about how much I worship my husband, how proud I am to be a part of his life, and how even when India really siphons the vigor out of us like a rabid leprous vampire bat sucking on the teats of our souls, it's been a pretty incredible year, namely in that we've learned how to make wherever we are home.



P. picked me up at the bus station just before midnight with garlands of marigolds and hugs and conservative Rajasthan-appropriate kisses and a big sparkly witch's hat that the fellow at the corner everything-store insisted was a birthday hat. Outside our front door a certain someone had written a little love note in flowers he'd gotten from our new favorite local character: the 300-pound one-legged female flower-seller who is *also* the reigning state champion shot-put thrower in the women's amputee division. (You can't make this stuff up.) Inside was the cutest little cake you've ever seen from the local bakery. All the shopkeepers had helped P. put together the most adorable Jaipur-style stroke-of-midnight birthday party, and it was enough to inspire some dusty, happy, road-weary tears. The next day we went to Anokhi Cafe, my faaavorite cafe in Jaipur, for a languorous, three-hour, postcard-writing and talk-of-the-future birthday lunch. Best birthday ever, and, as my bus ticket indicated, the start of a Happy Journey indeed.

27 comments:

  1. Happy Belated sweet Lily!!!!! What a great and memorable way to spend your 29th birthday ... it sounds magical. Sending you lots of love and hugs!!!
    Your friend,
    Caro

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  2. Um...I'm pretty much at a loss for words. Your husband sounds ridiculously sweet. Your contemplative bus ride sounds like the perfect scene in a well written book/movie. And I love the fact that you wrote about home...because that word packs all kinds of meaning, and if you can't make where you ARE home, well, that could be downright sad. This post made my morning. xoxo

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  3. That sounds like a lovely kind of birthday. Good you weren't too road weary to enjoy it! Best wishes for you for another year on this planet and for your new life in New York!

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  4. Nice!...really nice.
    Enjoy the ride.
    Cheers!

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  5. happy birthday sweet, beautiful, strong, talented lily!

    makes me happy knowing i celebrate my birthday just two days from yours.

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  6. Glad you had such a lovely birthday! At least you can't say it wasn't unique! (And I'm still snorting at leprous vampire bat...) :)

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  7. Happy belated birthday, Lily!

    And seriously, I <3 you too. Well, both of you, actually, but you more. ;) And I'm so grateful that you share your magical if sometimes rabid and leprous experiences with us. So very. It's the very best present to us. Happy onward journey to you both, indeed.

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  8. you make me want to jump on a plane back to india!

    happy birthday, sounds like a great day :)

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  9. Happy Birthday, Lily! I had been trying to guess how old you were for forever now, and I was correct. Two points Kate (I'm not sure why two points, but let's just roll with it). This sounds pretty damn magical.

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  10. Gosh, you are such a good writer. And indeed, that sounds like a very reflective, full-circle way to spend a birthday. So glad it was a great one. :)

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  11. happy birthday sweet lily! sounds perfect (except for that sweaty bit...ugh, the heat!).

    loves.

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  12. If we could all be so reflective, home truly is where the heart lies. I love the images of the old man, knarly knuckles resting ever so patiently on his knees, a long journey indeed. And one I wish for you and yours, another year, another adventure in life.

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  13. 29 is my best number.

    happy birthday.

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  14. I was 29 when I spent my time in India. Yours has been way more productive! Beautiful post - brought tears to my eyes. Love you both.

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  15. Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Lily! Happy Birthday to you!♪♫•*♪♫•* Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ☆ ˜”*°•♥•°*”˜ ♪♫•* Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ♪♫•♥♫•*¨˜”*°•♥•°*”˜ *•♫♪*✿*•♫♪*♥2☮1☮ Sending blessings of Light, Love, Joy, Peace •●♥ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♥●•

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  16. Happy Birthday Aries sister!! Mine's today :)
    XoXoXo

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  17. My 22nd birthday on a bus in India is totally jealous of your 29th birthday on a bus in India. Although, at the end of it, I got REAL ICE in a COCKTAIL and the stars danced in the heavens. I guess P and his marigolds outshine the ice. I guess.

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  18. Aw, you guys are the sweetest. Thanks for the lovely birthday wishes.

    Mel and Jen, happy birthday to YOU two!

    Smaggles- god, I know. I kept thinking about that. At least I had someone on the other end to pick me up! xoxo

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  19. i would want to hang out with you and hear your marvelous stories even if the leprous bat got you, lily. it'd be worth the digits.

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  20. Happy Birthday and Happy Journey!

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  21. I think you got a keeper! This guy extinguishes any negative preconceived notion of an american military man that I have ever had...really!

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  22. Happy birthday, Lily! You had me at amputee flower-seller.

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  23. Happy belated birthday, dearest Lily! What a sweet husband you have! I always love hearing about your adventures! [And thanks for coming to visit me on the blog; I've missed you!] XOXO

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  24. fairy tale life, right there.... Happy Belated Lily!!

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