I have to admit to having had a little trepidation about returning to India. Had I changed too much to appreciate it? Would all the things it took me awhile to get used the first time resurface with a vengeance? Would I find the crush of people, the pollution, the poverty, the chaos to be too much? Maybe I had become a different person after all these years, one overly accustomed to my New York life and ways, and I would be bothered by all those things in ways I was not before I left India over seven years ago.
Well, I needn’t have worried, there is something magic about this place. From the moment I stepped off the plane and got in the car to see Nik and Rittu, who I am staying with, I was charmed again. And in the last day we have got caught up a bit, Rittu and I wandered around a little and had a thali, and I met up with Alok and Vikrum and a bunch of their friends last night for dinner down in Colaba. Seeing old friends here has been wonderful, it feels that no time has passed between us.
Although I have only been here a day, so much seems easier than the first time I was here. Getting from place to place seems faster, with traffic flowing much more smoothly than I remember. Taking taxis is much easier, I don’t have to argue about fares at all. Getting train tickets is much easier, you can just order them online now. Even walking on the street is much easier, I just don’t get harassed the way I used to. Is it my beard, or something else? Have I changed or has India? I am almost regretting deciding to spend so little time here on this trip.
Since I always have to stop through another city on my way to Marrakech (there are, after all, no direct flights from NYC), I always look at it as an opportunity to take a mini side vacation for a few days. This time I noticed a route through Geneva, and that gave me an opportunity to catch up with my friend Jonathan who I haven’t seen in a few years. He picked me up at the airport yesterday and then brought me to his beautiful house in the suburb/town of Versoix. Everything about his place is perfect, beautiful, and of course in order (as one would expect of the Swiss. Needless to say, I am in heaven. :)) And I finally got to meet Jonathan’s husband Michael for the first time, and we shared a tasty meal in the charming nearby town of Carouge, followed by a gelato and short walk around.
Today I will go to the city center and have a general tourist walkabout. The last time I was in Geneva was over 20 years ago, and the only thing I remember about it from that time is that it was exceedingly boring. I suspect that I will find it more interesting this time around, but I will let you know later tonight.
My old friend Troy is in town and staying with me for a couple of days. He is heading out for a 6 week trip to Israel and Istanbul, and is just passing through New York for a couple of days. Troy and I have known each other for about 27 years, when we were both students at the University of Cincinnati. We crossed paths a bit throughout our school years and in the various places we were living (notably London and New York) but didn’t really get to know each other well until Troy moved to San Francisco in 1994 and became my roommate for a few months. Troy still lives in SF, and just left Apple after working there for 6 years. I get the sense he is looking to re-connect with his former, pre corporate, more free-spirited self. Troy is one of the most talented designers I know and I am looking forward to seeing what this new phase will mean for him creatively. I am a big fan of change and renewal, I think it keeps the creative juices flowing and keeps us engaged with the world, so I think this trip will be a very good one for him. We have had a nice visit and catching up over the past couple of days, he takes off for the Mysterious Orient later today. Good luck, Troy.
Yesterday, in an effort to promote my new site and get some work, I did something I very rarely do: I emailed everyone in my address book. Out of some three hundred or so email addresses, about a fifth of them bounced as undeliverable, which is fairly normal as people swap email addresses all the time, and the probability that an adress from five years ago or more will still be valid is fairly low. Still, a large number of mails reached people that I hadn’t spoken to in a long time, and many of them responded with questions, comments or news of their lives. I love the randomness of who responded and in what manner. They were as varied as a friend from high school, people I have met on my travels, former colleagues, and distant relations. And just like that, we (re)collect pieces of our past, and reconnect with something, whether a time or place or memory. I am most fascinated by the nature of the act of reaching out to everyone (even if in a somewhat mundane way of looking for work), because some of the most amazing things come from the random and the unexpected. The intersections present in those moments of receiving contact, the particulars of each person (their humor or mood, whether they are in a rush or relaxing) all contribute to possible responses or none at all. And out of the past, something new and different is created in the present.