Young children at a Chennai bus reacts to the camera.
On the airport in Kuala Lumpur I had discretely changed into an Indian style outfit: a green Salvar Kameez a friend had given me.
I wanted to have the outfit when I landed in India to surprise A – but I was also very nervous that I maybe was wearing it the wrong way.
As I approached my gate more and more Indians surrounded me and I looked closely at their expressions to see if anyone was looking in a weird way at my clothes. But no one did, and I felt like I could breath out.
I tried to make up my mind about if I was still supposed to wear my Taiwanese face mask. On a flight with mostly Taiwanese people it felt natural, but on an airplane with almost only Indians? It didn’t make sense to have it. I actually stopped sneezing too. Have you ever seen a European girl wearing Indian clothes and an Asian face mask? I can not be both Taiwanese, Swedish and Indian at the same time. I decided to leave the mask behind and also did my best to stop thinking in Chinese. It was time to focus fully on India now.
A few hours later, after a very smooth flight, we landed in Chenna, India. Chennai is a 10 million people city in the south, located in Tamil Nadu. I could hear Tamil, my boyfriend’s mother tongue, all around me. The air was warm and humid and I was thankful for the loose light material I was wearing.
Even before I made it through customs I could see a familiar face watching me from the crowd outside. And there he was. My very own A. He travelled to India a few days in advance and had been waiting a few days in India already.
Now it was finally time to meet his family.
Soon I realized that I was not the only one who wore Indian clothes, even A did. I never seen him in an Indian outfit before!
As soon as I arrived to their home I was given jasmine flowers to hang in my hair – just like the South Indian girls does.
Hello India, I love you already!
After writing my last exam in Taiwan I just had little more than one day to finish all errands, clean up my dorm, pack my bags and say goodbye. I will only be away from Taiwan for a month, but when I return a lot will have changed. Some of my dearest friends will have moved home. Those 24 hours I felt sick, confused and exhausted, but in the end I managed to finish everything on time.
At Saturday night they followed me out to my waiting taxi and I saw my bags getting stuffed inside. When I pictured saying goodbye I thought we will have oceans of time – but everything was over so quickly. Absent minded as I was I asked the taxi driver to take me to the airport. That was where I was going after all, wasn’t it? But as he started to ask about terminals I got unsure and felt that something was wrong.
My friend opened the taxi door and double checked that the driver and I could understand each other. “Airport?” He laughed. “Are you crazy? You are going to the HSR train station! What are you thinking with?” It was good he corrected me or that would have turn out to be a very expensive ride. And so we finally waved goodbye and the taxi left.
For a moment I felt tears building up in my eyes and I thought I might start crying. But immediately the taxi driver started asking questions and talking. And talking and talking. He was talking so intensely all the way to the station I didn’t have a chance to think of anything else than to focus on understanding the Chinese.
When we arrived to the station I paid, grabbed my backpack and left. I almost made it to the entrance before I heard a voice behind me. This time he spoke to me in English.
“Excuse me, excuse me! Your luggage! You forgot your luggage!”
Apparently I had overlooked the fact that I was only carrying a small backpack and not my oversized giant suitcase. First forgetting where I was going and then forgetting my bag? Before I even left the city I live in? I was quietly asking myself how I would possibly, in this exhausted state, make this long trip by myself. After taking the short train ride I took a bus and so I was ready for the first flight.
Wearing my big, bright blue face mask I boarded the plane and tried my best not to sneeze more than absolutely necessarily.