Saturday, February 28, 2009

Leaving Varanasi

The transition from Varanasi to Pune was lengthy, but not unpleasant, except for having to leave behind so many dear friends.  We've been comparing living in India to camping, but I don't think that's quite right.  Varanasi felt, at the end, most like summer camp.  A place that was at first really alien and, um, *rustic*, and a place full of people who I didn't know and wasn't sure I wanted to.  But just like camp, by the end of our time there I had made many wonderful close friends and come to love a lot of the *eccentricities* of the physical place. But also like camp, I have to admit I wasn't truly all that sad to leave.  

On our way out of town we had one last Aijaz moment.  It was almost heart-breaking-ly sweet - he and Samser coordinated a roadside meet up and Aijaz gave us all roses and his good wishes for the future.  
Samser called the other day and I was surprised by how  happy I was to hear his goofy cheerful voice again.  Chris talked to both Aijaz and Samser and it seems the Ahmed Travels Trust is up and running well.   Miss them both lots.  

After the roses we spent hours (no one should be surprised that our flight from Varanasi to Delhi was 2+hrs late, right?) at the airport, singing songs (if you need any Grateful Dead songs translated into Hindi, Chris is your man) (pics on Chris's Facebook page), playing action figures and generally being our adorable selves.  
And then Delhi.  Wow.  WOW.  Delhi, after 4 months in Varanasi was like a different country, or planet, even.  Traffic lights, well-paved roads, shopping malls, good chocolate and good pasta, plus one of the best Fulbright perks...
the Fulbright house.  (If you love us at all, please remember this image next time you pay your taxes and imagine my utter delight and relief upon getting to stay here after our tenure in Varanasi.  And the kids' joy at finally having a proper yard to play in, after 4 months.  This is what your tax dollars are doing!  Hallelujah!)
We shopped a bit in Delhi, ate awesome food and then headed on to Pune.  Arriving in a new place at night is always a bit strange, but we were so pleasantly surprised the next morning...

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