The previous week has been one "last" thing after the next. Last Hindi lesson. Last haircut from my friends Manjunath and Krishna at the Oberoi. Last day in the office that I helped to select, build, and (hopefully) make a fabulous place for 250+ people to work. Last time being forced to sing in front of the entire Bangalore staff (yes, I secretly enjoyed this). ;) And, most recently, last idli/waada at the local darshani (Sree Lakshmi Venkateshwara).
An example of the difference in the emotional bonds that Indian people develop versus those of Americans: Two days ago, we ordered pizza from Pizza Hut to be delivered, because we had already started packing things up and didn't have many options to prepare food at home. When the delivery person came (Deepak), Kelly told him it was probably our last time ordering pizza from them since we were moving. Last night around 9:30PM we were surprised by a visit from Deepak on his Pizza Hut bike. He brought us a bouquet of flowers and told us he was going to miss us. This wasn't a gift from Pizza Hut (though, that in itself would have been a wonder). This was a gift from Deepak. He looked genuinely sad. This is only one example of many from our last week here. Were we as Americans ever like this? If not, why not? If so, why did we lose it? Why are we so jaded?
The movers will be here in under an hour to strip the house bare. Then, we'll spend our last few hours talking and playing chess with our driver and best friend, Ramesh, sweating in the heat and watching the cows, buffalo, and goats go by.
I guess some of the sentimentality of the Indian people has rubbed off on me, and I think that's a good thing. Someone asked me last week what I was going to "take away" from this experience. I think this is the big one. It's OK to care about people. Not just a close, inner circle but anyone and everyone. On my first trip to India, and experienced travel told me, "Rule number one: Don't trust anyone in India". I've spent more time here than him now, and I can confidentally say that he's wrong.
Hamaare har Hindustani doston se yeh kehta hun: Sab kuch ke liye, bahut bahut dhanyawad. Nahi bhul jaaunga.
We'll be traveling for basically a week. We have to take breaks because the dogs can't make a straight journey all the way home. We're flying into Chicago and will stay there for a day or two to recover from jet lag before the flight home. So, if you don't hear back from an email or don't see us pop up on AIM, you'll know why.