After five months of traveling the world, I have at last arrived home. The last few days I've felt exhausted and disoriented, and unsure what to do with myself with wide open days and no sightseeing agenda. Over the last several months I've had no problem settling in as I moved from place to place, but oddly enough, I now find myself waking up during the night confused about where I am, taking several minutes to orient myself.
Home is starting to feel more normal, but at first it was like a sterile corporate apartment, what with having packed up my personal belongings before I left to clear my condo out for the tenants I rented it to. I look forward to unpacking my belongings, and personalizing my home again with the treasures I've acquired over course of my trip – a hand-woven tree of life rug from India, lacquerware from Vietnam, a Kashmiri patchwork wall hanging, a wool blanket from Tibet, and more.
These five months have been an amazing experience, one that I struggle to adequately capture here. I have had the rare opportunity to travel for an extended period, immersing myself in different cultures and challenging myself with new and different experiences – and learning so much in the process.
Most of what I've learned is too complicated or personal to share here, but one lesson definitely warrants mentioning – how to make chai from scratch. Boil a couple cups of water with a piece of cinnamon bark, 2-3 green cardamom pods (smashed), 5-10 cloves and few slices of fresh ginger in for 5 minutes. Add 2-4 teaspoons of black tea and boil 2 more minutes. Add 1-2 cups of milk (depending on taste), boil 2 more minutes. Add sugar to taste, and serve. Yum!
By far, the most intense part of my travels was the two months I spent in India, an experience that was inspiring, frustrating, exhilarating, saddening, overwhelming and, most of all, eye-opening. I will always treasure my memories of volunteering in Dharamsala, and I am so grateful to everyone who contributed to my volunteer fund to help make that possible.
As for the question everyone keeps asking me – "What's next?" – I'm figuring that out as I go along. I have some leads on the job front, and endless offers of help if those don't pan out. Again, I'm so grateful for all the support I've received from friends and former coworkers who care about my well-being and believe in me. You'd think that getting laid off would be a blow to the ego, but in reality it showed me that I have more love and support in my life than I ever realized.
Whatever I end up doing next and in the future, I will do my best to continue to honor the wisdom of India's founding father, Mahatma Gandhi: