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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Reporting from Mumbai Airport

The evening of Wednesday the 15th: walking into Mumbai airport and taking a seat in the waiting area… Wouw: I’m shocked and feel brilliant at the same time. I’m seeing so many different people and nationalities all together! Wouw… The Europeans, the Asians, the Africans. I can’t help but feel so light and relieved to see more of the world, just by seeing different faces… Yes yes yes! So happy I am to hear people who natively speak English… or even to hear European English! Wouw… I never expected to feel so fresh just to see a group of German women sitting together, laughing freely, chatting, wearing the clothes they wish to wear and being expressive individuals. Man oh man… how excited I am.

It’s nearly 12 hours before my flight. Why am I so early? Well, I basically wasn’t willing to be overcharged 2 nights in a row by the man from the guesthouse and I didn’t have the energy to search for another clean hostel in the city. So, yes, there she is; the stingy (and slightly drained) traveller who was taken for a ride and now she’s spending the night sleeping in the airport.

But honestly, I don’t mind that I’m here so early. It’s now 22.45, I can check in at 5.50 in the morning (of the 16th). So it’s not too bad, it toughens me up if I’m ‘sleeping rough’. I’ve done it before. Actually it was here in this exact same place back in July 2010. Then I also had an early flight so I hung out in this same waiting hall for 15 hours!!!! That was a bit longer, a bit more strenuous.

I feel so much better compared to the last time I left India. When I look back now, I was almost running from here. I felt so negative towards the difficulties that travelling in India can bring about; the haste, the haggling, the dirt, the stares… I needed to get out. But I missed it straight away once I’d left! (that’s always the way; we push away what we have and then when it’s gone, we wish for it back again!) Anyhow, this time, I feel entirely different. Now I’m moving onwards with a smile towards India. I’m so grateful for everything and I have more of an understanding for the things that made me frustrated, during my last visit.

I understand their haggling; of course they’ll try to make money! I’m a ‘rich tourist’ in their eyes, so of course they’ll try to scam. To protect myself, I have to haggle and I can do this with a smile. It’s not that they’re out to get me, Niamh Keoghan, personally! It’s their way of life. It’s all the result of their circumstances. As for the stares, of course I stand out from the crowd! I’m white remember! It’s normal… And no matter how at home I feel here, or how absorbed I get or how long I stay, I’m still NOT AN INDIAN, I’ll never look or be one! And that will always lead to stares that can feel to be curious ones, or judgemental ones, or envious ones or simply friendly ones. I have to be fine with this, it’s something I have to accept. How else can I move freely around countries that aren’t western? Acceptance is the only answer.

As for the dirt; what do I expect?!?! There’s over 1 billion people living in this country and if the dirt has always been there, it’s not going to disappear over night. If the majority of the population hasn’t been exposed to environments that are treated with respect by the people living their, then how can they know the difference? How can they change their ways, if they haven’t been taught any better? As for the haste: millions of people thrown on top of each other, trying to live their lives… of course life will be fast in the city! So, I leave India, with far more acceptance for their ways.

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