After The Monsoon

‘“Wanderlust and my longing for home are birthed from the same place: a desire to find the ultimate spot this side of heaven.” Tsh Oxenreider

We are coming to the end of week 10 of travelling. I have much to process. Trying to take time to be still. Feel the need to put pen to paper, to scribble my whirlwind thoughts. 

Cochin, Kerala

First taste of India, Dahl + potato curry, simple, wholesome, hot, sweet chai. Tastes like home. Bustling streets, green heavy leaves. Humidity, heat and salty sea. Playing cards, resting, sleeping. Searching for street food, fresh chapatis, tastes like heaven. Tuk tuk drives, blasting horns and animals everywhere. Reading, bucket washing, cold water. Simplicity. Hungry for fresh food. Long river rides, annoying loud tourists. Palm trees, coconuts, iguanas, lush, green, showers of fresh monsoon rain. Homes, children watching + waving, women washing, rope making + working. Lunch from banana trees. Tree canopy, cocoa, papaya, nutmeg, cinnamon, mango, wild pineapple, sleepy bumpy bus journeys home.Feeling irritable, trying to not be desiring more things and stuff, learning to be satisfied with the bag on my back, getting jobs done, frantic searching for ATMS.

First train journey, thankful! No one else in our booth, dirty and messy, sheets left over from last night, but, quiet and cool. Met by Abin, taken home and given a feast. Fish in coconut, prawns, fried banana, dosa, chai, boiled eggs. Treated like family, embraced. Sent away with bananas and chocolate bourbons. Blessed, more family away from home. It’s the people that are humbling me. 6 days of green, gentle curry, gentle people, sleeping, cards, catching up, dreaming, backwaters, cooking in Neema’s kitchen. Selah.

Trivandurum, Kerala

Green, humid, sweaty, power cuts and no fan, cannot sleep, open windows, bugs. Being part of a family. Playing cards + learning magic tricks. Curry for breakfast! Constantly hot and bothered. Black sandy beaches, British lighthouses, playing in the sand, coconut water and sunset. Being treated. Walking up the rocks, cool breeze, watching for planes and twinkling lights. Uni + Sonia giggling, showing them our family pics. Jungle book land, water dripping from leaves, poisonous spiders hanging in giant webs, hovering above our heads. Waterfalls, brooks, smoky jungle light streaming through the trees. Magical land. Winding hairpin roads, stopping for chai + bananas, reminds me of Pakistan. Hills and tea, misty mountain, pouring monsoon rain, rivers of mud. Village churches, meetings under plastic sheets. Smiling eager and hungry faces. More chai. Funny empty circus, running round the zoo. Being treated like family, welcomed, embraced. Humbled by their home, food and hospitality. Blessed week, challenged by external circumstances, food, heat, clothing, it all pales into insignificance. 

Mysore

15 hours on the bus, winding bumpy roads, Bollywood music, cooler weather - what a relief. Space to ourselves, stopping + resting again. Washing, cooking(!!) pasta, pizza, dominoes! Shopping, air con, supermarket. Ed Feverish and sleeping, me worrying. Trying to process and reflect. What kind of life do I want to craft, where are we going and what is next? 

“Travelling means touching, tasting, smelling the world. You’ll add years to your life with more layers, thicker skin, and a softer heart because of it. Travel is a gift. But travel doesn’t provide stability, and isn’t it in stability that we find home?” Tsh Oxenreider

Bangalore

Catching a fever, Starbucks a relief!! Smells like and looks like home. Waiting for Ben, feeling ill and aching for home. Long night drive to the orphanage. Collapsing into bed, exhausted, struggling. 2days of being cooped up. Mosquitoes, heavy dark clouds, cracking thunder and monsoon rain. Fever taking a long time to break. Listening to books, sleeping. 11 sweet kids, shouting ‘brother’, ‘sister’ clambering for attention, parachute games in the dirty grounds, stray dogs barking, laughing kids. Thankful for Ed taking one for the team this time. Disappointment, leaving early, needing somewhere to recover. Feeling flat. 

Hotel - great bed, long sleeps, healing up! Real chats, missing home and feeling adrift! Watching Netflix, hot shower, room service. Hard Rock Cafe, more Starbucks, taking advantage of western life. Face timing and catching up. Not loving India right now. Feels like hard work, disappointed to have cut short time with the kids, disappointed to get ill. Just reality. Ed said that maybe we have to really know what we are giving up to be prepared to give it up - like Abraham and Isaac. I hope this is what this trip is, saying yes and preparing to let our lives change forever, even to the hard things. 

“I will not tell you how long or short the way will be, only that it lies across a river, but do not fear that for I am the great bridge builder” Aslan.

Goa

More flights, more humidity, feels like Kerala. Beaches, white sand, sunshine and sun burn! Beach shacks, cold coke and beer, empty roads, rice fields, cows, more stray dogs. Ed’s birthday! Wish I could celebrate him like normal with breakfast and gifts, he is happy though. Scooting around, exploring, more beach days. Good food, biryani for birthday dinner! Cows wandering the beach, the Indian Ocean is so warm it's like a bath! Sandy feet, cool showers. Long chats about where we are and where we are going, reflecting and being honest, India has been rocky, comforted that we are first time travellers and it’s always hard. Looking forward to the next stage. Chatting about home life, so much to process, still so much time. Chatting about relationships, friendships, disappointments and hopes for the future. Preparing for Mumbai, the crazy, the heartbreak. I want to give my all, to serve well. 

I feel like India is two strokes of the same brush. I don’t like it in some ways, the dirty, the chaos, the many, many stares I get as a blonde blue eyed girl, feels nothing like home. It sure is hard work. And yet, I also love the crazy, i’m drawn to it somehow and have been for the past 10years since I visited as a15year old. We feel oddly safe. feels like there is nowhere else in the world even close to this place, a continual stream of sights and smells and colours, helpful people, kind people, I can glimpse a bit of heaven in this mad place that is crammed full of people and animals, children and nature, mixed up religion and superstition and all the gritty bits of life. 

'Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees, takes off his shoes..' Elizabeth Bennett Browning

 

Bethany WalkerComment