For last eight plus years, I have made umpteen plans to visit New Delhi. Every time my husband traveled to New Delhi, upon his return I would spring into action. I would detail plan a three-week vacation in which we would revisit New Delhi and neighboring places. I want to walk the path of my nostalgia. For that I would look-up railways and flight timings. I would make color-coded excel sheets. I would map-out routes and calculate the cost. But my planning never came to fruition.
I reasoned that it is because when my husband could take time-off, I couldn’t. For years, I held the belief that the reasons are circumstantial not personal. Now, on a lot of introspection, I find that my reason is simple. I am just not ready to go back to New Delhi. I am not ready to meet my relatives or give them excuses of why I don’t want to or can’t meet them. I am not ready to prove my changed way of living to friends from the past. How can I explain that now when I open my purse, I take out a lipstick instead of a cigarette? Moreover, I am not ready to tackle all the governmental and cultural changes in India.
Living in America, I take my clues of what India is like from Bollywood movies. They show me an India that I do not comprehend and can’t relate to. In the movies, Indian society accepts young people living together before getting married. I know from other Indians in America that it is still not so easily accepted in India. In the movies even though the lead actress wears the latest western fashions, she is cherished by the society around her. From my experience I KNOW that is not true. Indians in America shun me due to my western cloths and western lifestyle. The most baffling question for me is: today, is divorce a norm in India. Movies portray that it is not-a-big-deal. But since childhood I was repeatedly told that getting a divorce is equal to dancing naked in front of one’s family and friends. Moreover, I find it difficult to relate to the rise of inflation in India. Today the price of bread in India is same as the cost of my half-month groceries twelve years ago.
I am not scared of visiting India. I just feel as though I am behind in all things that happened and are happening in India.
Once I accept this, I am able to move forward. I don’t look at India as home. I think of India as a place where I once lived. I accept that now during my visit to India, I will be more of an onlooker—a tourist—than a participant.
A month ago, I had a crazy idea. It was after my husband and I had a big fight. He said that I was wrong, but I insisted that I am the injured party. Truthfully, I don’t have any recollection of my so-called behavior which caused the blowout between us.
It is then I realized that I needed time-off—from him, from all the stresses of my-habitually-cleaning-everything-twice-with-Clorox wipes-living. I calculated that since my move to America, I have neglected to pamper myself. I didn’t get a professional massage, I was apprehensive. I still have not used the Massage Envy gift certificate that my husband gifted me seven years ago. Only once I got a facial, as I never had the time or could find the right esthetician. I fully understand that it is ME who didn’t pay attention to myself.
I realized also that since I have married some eight plus years ago, I have never traveled alone, ate in a restaurant alone, or gone to a play or event alone. I did everything with my husband. I am not dependent on him; I make my own decisions. We have separate bathrooms from the day we got married. We give each other ample of independent space. But we do all social things together. I have forgotten how to tackle things alone.
So, I decided to go for a four-day spa-vacation to Sonoma. My husband found a good spa and waited for me to say, “Book it.” My therapist said that it is an excellent idea. But I couldn’t say yes. In February, I had visited a luxury resort in Hawaii, but I didn’t relax there. I felt that in Sonoma, I will be on my toes—I will have to style my hair and wear makeup. That in Sonoma, I wouldn’t be able to let go. (I write this based on my Hawaii experience.) Also, I am vegan who eats egg and doesn’t drink wine. Yes, I know that I am waste in bay-area California. Moreover, I felt that I needed more than three days to get rid of my perpetual irritability.
Somehow, I really don’t know how, I thought of Kerala. Years earlier, my husband had told me about resorts in Kerala which cater to mostly non-Indian crowds. I told my husband of my thinking. Within twenty-four hours, he found a retreat, booked my flight tickets, and booked a room for me for two weeks.
After I finish researching the resort’s website and packing all my knickknacks, I will fly to the number one luxury retreat in Kerala, India. I will not visit New Delhi or any of my old haunts or any friends. I will stay in the resort and fly back to US. Even though I will visit India, I will not actually visit the real India.
Update: for weeks this post sat in the draft folder, as I was so busy collecting knickknacks for my trip that I forgot to click the publish button of this post. I publish this from my second night in India.