Go to India mermaid statue

It’s hard to not feel like a giant-sized, first-world cliché when I tell you that my low-grade existential crisis landed me in India. After all, what’s a near 40-year-old woman — with a broken heart and confused about her future — supposed to do?

Go to India, of course.

It is not leaving

Actually, I have serendipity to thank for this. I finally decided to text back an old fling who had reached out in early November just to check in. At the time, out of devotion to my ex, I chose to blow him off.

He was quick to question how I let a full month go by without more of an initial response. This was fair and deserving only of the truth, cheery as it might not be. I fessed up: “You’re right, I’m sorry. I was in a relationship with someone who turned out to be not who I thought he was and my loyalty was with him. … And I am pretty sure I have been swimming in a shallow pool of depression over the past few months. I hope you can understand.”

He did. In fact, this time the shoe was on the other foot. He was still reeling from a painful break-up from someone he was going to ask marry when a chance meeting brought us together in ’09.

It is shining

With a strong spirit and a gentle nature, he is as comical as he is informative and operates with an abiding sense of integrity. At first, I didn’t have his phone number or know his last name. He would just show up at my house with a bag from Whole Foods to prepare dinners for me. We’d then close the evening by reading the meaning of obscure idioms to one another.

This was heaven to me and the exact reason I didn’t want his details. The less real I could keep him the better, as I knew he had the capacity to crush me. A proper relationship was the last thing he needed or wanted. In an effort to spare my heart, I arrived at a point where I asked him to stop coming over, but by this stage we had exchanged numbers. (I was putting meal requests in by then).

In addition to obscure idioms, we would also occasionally discuss the world, review maps and compare travels. Seemingly, he had been to everywhere and back, and he had just left his hedge fund job for a finance start-up in Brazil. As fate had it, I was studying Brazil’s financial sector as part of my job with the Trade and Technology Board of the Irish Government. We always had something to talk about.

It is believing

Things were no different when we spoke again for the first time this past December. I asked him if he had any interesting travels coming up — in hopes of tempting him with a trip to Argentina so I could make use of the tickets I just booked for my ex and I as a fun getaway.
Turns out he did have some interesting travels plans. He was going to India for a yoga and writing retreat and there was still room if I wanted to join.

Did I want to go to India for a yoga and writing retreat? I wanted nothing more in my life at that moment. Yes, Argentina would have offered an opportunity to trade the familiar for the foreign, which I love, but with all the past few months had served up — my mom’s stroke, an abrupt break-up and what seemed like endless family tension — India felt like a providential calling.

“I’m in; send me the details,” I told him.

“Awesome,” he replied, and then advised me to start on the visa process immediately.

“Yeah, yeah. See you in India!” And with that, I hung up.

OMG – I was going to India!!! There was plenty that needed to be done to ensure I was going to make it, but in my heart of hearts, I knew I was going. My intuition told me so. That said, I was cautious in letting others know I viewed this as a foregone conclusion and was quick to bless it with a “fingers crossed” proviso when the conversation came up.

The gap between my knowing-intuition of going and the actuality of making it a reality turned out to be massive. The full tale is deserving of a series of blog posts, which I really hope to find the time and energy to accurately convey the high-drama saga that it would become. It was complete with friends, family and caregivers serving as supporters, prayer-givers and on-lookers of the freak I would become to make this trip. There were a few random, but friendly, complete strangers who would also play a part in my getting to India.

It is being

I’m not sure if it was sleep deprivation from what would be a near 38-hour-door-to-door journey, or if the full range of sadness steeping inside of me finally devoured my composure, but I landed in Mumbai flooded in my own tears. It wasn’t the type of crying where you are heaving, the kind that requires a physical contribution from your body. This was a total surrender in which my sleepy eyes just poured out buckets of tears with a snotty nose following their lead.

I was relieved when the airline announced they were going to spray an industrial bug spray inside the plane just before landing and they recommended covering our eyes as they walked through the cabin. This would give me the perfect excuse to explain the state of my face to my travel mates when we connected in Mumbai.

It is knowing

From landing, clearing immigration and collecting bags to organizing a prepaid taxi, I was surprised with the pace with which we exited Mumbai airport. I guess this was one of the benefits of landing at 6 a.m. We chatted up the man who was helping us transfer our bags to the taxi when one of us offered him a piece of candy from the many bags of it bought during our layover. (I love my snacks).

The man dismissed the concept of candy as almost being near childish, but was quick to take up a biscuit (or cookie as we commonly refer to them in the United States). Just as soon as he accepted the cookie, a gypsy woman appeared before us begging for money. The man turned to the woman and gave her his biscuit, as if instinct. A striking moment for us all; it reminded me of the best of my Dad.

India, I knew, was going to be good for me.



Jacqueline Botting is the founder and a contributing writer to WiseTribe. She is a technology business developer in the U.S. and overseas for start-ups and Fortune 1000s. She’s a proponent of owning less to live more and believes greater contemplative practices in our daily lives and social institutions make our world a better place. She splits her time between LA, NYC and Florida. Connect with Jacqueline on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google +.

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