I awaken curled in a soft chair, my coat over my head to help me nap. I can hear the sounds of the Delhi airport waking up. There is the musical sound of a man singing a chant and some indistinct music accompanying him. It sounds peaceful, like a good way to keep the crowds feeling calm and alert. Under that is the rising din of people talking, wheels rolling, mostly indistinct from under my jacket and sitting here in this nice lounge, in a balcony that overlooks the shopping area that is the entrance to the domestic airport.
They were building it last time I was here, and the old one was very tired and dingy. Plus it required a shuttle bus ride to get to it. I had forgotten they were working on a new one, and was not looking forward to a shuttle bus ride with all my luggage at 1am.
But the universe had other plans. More than an hour after arrival, I (and several of my fellow travelers from Amsterdam) decided that that our luggage was not going to arrive on the turnstile. So we all went and stood for another hour or so, filing claims for our missing bags. That accomplished, I went through customs and set off to find my domestic flight's lounge. It isn't scheduled until 9:30am and now it's 3:30am, so the lounge is a lovely oasis. It has all the food you could want, espresso machine, tea, many quiet and soft chairs with people napping, and such. These, of course, exist all over the world of airports. But after waiting 3 or 4 hours to fly out from Detroit—since they changed my flight, and 7/8 hours to Amsterdam, then another 3 waiting in Amsterdam before boarding the packed 8 hour flight to Delhi, then the luggage waiting, this lounge seems so nice and peaceful.
Next I will fly to Gauhati, then take a bus to Shillong. So it's good to have this break that feels peaceful.
I was outside briefly, to cross from International to Domestic—and the heavy Delhi air smelled so familiar. Last time I arrived early like this too. Only then a friend lived not too far from the airport, and so he came and fetched me. Let me shower and change. Fed me, let me nap, and watch Delhi awaken from his second story balcony—before driving me back to the airport for the last leg of my trip.
How lucky I felt then too. Really, travel makes me feel lucky. The good fortune of health, finance, time and emotional disposition that makes it possible. The many lovely people I meet on my way, who share stories and share watching bags as we sit and wait and run for food or the toilet.
My lost luggage is making me smile. It will be difficult to borrow much clothing from my friends. They are much shorter than me! But the traditional Khasi Jainsem is really one-size fits most—and so I imagine that this is what I'll be wearing along with my wool dress I've got on now, until I can find clothes built for a giant (me)!
It's a good lesson, that my seemingly necessary 50 lbs of things will be lived without. Travel is such a good teacher in that respect. It always takes away thing you think are indispensable and asks you to rise to the occasion—new bed, new pillow or no pillow, new breakfast (maybe it's spicy!), and so on and so on. I think this is one of the things I love about travel, even as I wrestle with the loss. The invitation to stretch, and smile while you are doing it. Years ago, one of my favorite yoga teachers would teach us a new pose—and as we stretched in new ways with some grunts and groans, she would say "now add a gentle, soft, yoga smile. No pose is finished without a gentle yoga smile!"
This is what travel reminds me, stretch with a gentle yoga smile!
(PS—I've got several past blogs started and not send due to poor internet, or me falling asleep while writing!) I'll post some catch up stuff soon!