I was scared, terrified. It was probably midnight and we had just walked off the plane. Off the plane and out into the cool night air. I was with my older sister, but was still scared. I thought being here was going to calm me down, make me feel comfortable and “normal”. I thought being here would be like being home, like being in a place of complete comfort, surrounded by people who looked like me. It was dark and we were unsure what we were supposed to do. I expected the streets to be filled with people, bustling and jammed together. It was quiet and calm. There were a few groups of men, taxi and rickshaw drivers, standing around waiting for people like us.
It seemed like a bad idea to have planned our flight so we got in so late, especially since no one was meeting us. We would meet up with our guide in the morning and had to figure out how to get to our hotel on our own.
Anyone who has read this blog knows I love to fantasize. I love to think about all the possible outcomes of every decision I make. I daydream about being a world class soccer player. Breaking every scoring record that’s ever existed. Before this trip you can bet I fantasized about all the great things I would do when I got there. I believed this trip would dissolve my insecurities. Returning to my “homeland” would bring out my superhuman capabilities and I would lift this nation out of poverty, eliminate rampant corruption and, of course, make its soccer team the best in world.
To say I was naive would be kind. I was 15 and believed, n0 knew, that nothing could stop me! The difference between most of my fantasies and this one was that I, actually, believed that going home, to India, would actually make me feel more comfortable. I believe it could actually dispel my deepest insecurities and propel me to my fullest potential.
Stepping of that plane in Bangalore would be the first time I would have to honestly look at myself in the mirror and acknowledge I was who I was, no matter where I was. It is easy, growing up somewhere where you feel out of place, to always make excuses for why things don’t go right. For why you aren’t the best at everything or why you feel so insecure. It is easy to blame those things on something else, besides yourself. Growing up I placed a lot of blame for my own personal short-comings on my life circumstances. I always felt held back. Held back by a culture and world that didn’t understand me. Held back by being different than most around me. I
By choosing to get on that plane and subsequently spending 17 days in India I chose to confront this resentful narrative, unknowingly, of course.
One of the taxi drivers approached us (they knew we weren’t Indian immediately). We showed him the name of our hotel and he showed us to his minivan. The vans really were mini, not like in the U.S. where our minivans are gigantic. These looked like vans from the early 90s but shrunk. Inside were two sets of benches along each wall of the van. We clambered inside, suitcases and all. My sister and I looked at each other as the door slammed shut and the small gray van darkened inside. A few windows let in yellow street lamp light. We looked at each other, grinning, both realizing how clueless we really were.