So, I'll wrap this up. Because tonight I'm flying home to Canada - can you believe it? I told you it goes fast. I'm ready and it's time. I think I can even face the winter.
I came here because I wanted to find out what it was like to be in India and to travel alone. I can say with certainty that I barely know the first thing about what it's like to be in India. It seems almost discourteous to define something so big.
I do think that my experience here was shaped by being a young woman travelling alone. It gave me access to experiences that young men or groups don't have. I was often taken into homes or kitchens or the front step with the neighbours. I saw what was cooking, how the washing up was done, I got to sit in on the way people live their lives.
All over India, women and men and families watched out for me. They protected me because I was on my own. On a train once, a family of two dentists and their children and grandparents exchanged phone numbers with me so I would have someone to call in an emergency. The Baxis' number is still in my phone, unused but not unappreciated.
Will I come back? Jeet asked me that yesterday. I said the honest answer is I don't know. I came at this time because I thought I might not get a chance if I put it off. Most tourists I meet in India are either retired or have quit their jobs. I'm lucky. I have a job that I'm excited to go back to, and that also could let me go for over six weeks. But the future could always change, so I can't answer the question about returning.
What I do know is this - I met a few men and women who were travelling alone, same as me. They all told me that going solo is an experience that won't even register fully until about six months down the road. They said it takes that long to process things, think about what I've done, draw conclusions that I haven't seen yet. Some said that I might end up being drawn back to India or I might swear it off entirely, and whatever happened they said it would take time.
I have absolutely no idea what they mean by that. But I guess I'm going to find out.