Mornings were always my favourite time of the day in Kolkata, as it was usually cooler, 'quieter', and there was the feeling of knowing that if a good cuppa whilst looking over these buildings was the way I started my day, I knew that it would be a decent day.
The morning after I had first arrived in India, this was the scene I awoke to at 5am. It was humid and warm, with a breeze flowing through all of the open windows and doors, and the crows which had pulled me from sleep now squawked and made a fuss. A strange smell hung about, one that I could use a hundred words to describe, yet even those wouldn't equate to the air that curled into my nose.
With a whiff of a certain hand-soap we used when I originally arrived, all of these emotions, smells, sounds, and sights come back in a flood of memories, to a time where I thought it extremely difficult to see myself living there beyond a week, let alone 50 of them... yet here I am, sitting in a beautiful villa in Dubai city, on the other side of those 50.
It feels like yesterday when my stomach first lurched in anxiety at what was to come in my time in that foreign land, and now a 'day' later, it is the lingering taste of rich food from a rich city that churns my stomach.
To be completely honest, even though I have spent a few days away from the country I grew to accept as 'home', only now am I truly sitting down to reflect, and even still I find it extremely difficult to quite grasp the concept that I have left.
Yesterday I walked the many floors of Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, and multiple times I felt overcome with grief when it hit me I won't get to see all of my friends I made in India, for potentially a long time. I do not believe I am yet ready to really sit and think of all the things I have done, what and who I miss, when the simple act of purchasing a nice dress for myself set in emotions of guilt and the desire to cry. It's silly really - I bought clothes for myself while in Kolkata, but walking and travelling through a city that seems straight out of a sci-fi book set in the future, it is completely different.
Despite those few moments, I am ok. I'm enjoying a chance to relax and reflect here in the UAE, and to explore another culturally different city. This afternoon I am booked in for a desert safari, with 'dune-bashing', camel riding, henna-painting, belly dancing, and dinner under the Arabian night-skies... I am half-expecting a giant stone lion to emerge from the sand dunes, and speak to me before allowing me to step into it's agape mouth to find a genie's lamp. Thank's Disney! But I am 100% content with the concept of being atop a camel's back, making our way over mounds of sand, under the Arabian sun. Arabian. That is just a beautiful word right there, and it conjures many magical, dream-like scenes in my mind.
It is easy to forget that the past year was spent in India while I am pre-occupied by the goings-on here, which is both a blessing and a confusion. It's like, "Where am I, who am I, and what am I doing?"
Saying goodbye to the women who work at Freeset, the women I have grown to love as my friends, was one of the hardest things I have had to do. Trying to tell one of them how much they mean to me, or that I want to come back but don't know when, or that I'll miss them, was too difficult at times, as emotions strangled my speech and stung my eyes.
Where do I even begin to process what just happened? How do I do it?
I am sure these are things I am going to just learn along the way, and it really has been an incredible time in Dubai, spending time around like-minded and -hearted people. Hearing their stories of where they've been, what they're doing, and so on is truly motivating. I really do feel like I am being called back to this part of the world again some time in the future. To India, I do not know, but somewhere around the Middle East/Asia, yes.
A thing you'll see soon, is my face in New Zealand, after my time here in the Emirates.
Just be mindful of the question, "So, how was India?" I'm having difficulty as it is deciding that for myself, let alone summing it up in a few sentences... haha.