Oh, boy. It is feeling real. I am going to INDIA!
I spent half the morning in REI trying to figure out which sunhat I should buy, where the water purification tablets were, which sandals were comfortable enough for traipsing around but nice enough to wear to the conference, but not too sweat-inducing (it's hot in Chennai!), but with no leather, because you can't wear that in the temples. Then I had to laugh because who knows what the heck I'm going to need when I get there? My tendency for trips like this is to overpack, but for this trip I have one suitcase and a carry-on. Traveling light, baby. I'll figure it out when I get there.
With the exception of the antibiotics, anti-diarrheals, neosporin, cold medicines (India is po-lluted, fo sho, and I'm probably going to get a sinus infection, says the doc), electrolytes, and so on. I have, like, six pounds of pharma in my overnighter. A veritable pharmacy. I made room for that.
I was in Wild Oats yesterday, looking for an herbal remedy a friend recommended to me for nausea. There I was, looking confused in front of an entire wall of "digestive aids" when a Wild Oats guy who looked exactly like Kenny Rogers asked if I needed any help. "Yep," I said. "I'm going to India and don't want to barf the whole time I'm there. My stomach's a little fussy. Ideas?"
I expected the guy to be clueless, but lo and behold, he had spent ten years living in India! He hooked me up with the right meds, even giving me some for free (can he do that? He did!). But the best thing was this: unlike almost everyone else I've talked to, who frets about me going or who goes on and on about the smell or the poverty or the death or whatever, this guy--this Kenny Rogers Wild Oats Associate--he told me that India was the best place on earth. That God lived in India. That God was India. That if I didn't find God when I was India I had basically bubble-wrapped myself from the truth. That I would have to see India from the heart, that my heart would meld with the hearts of India, who seem poor and miserable but who live deeply in spirit.
I think if this guy had been super eco-groovy in a hemp vest and beaded hair droplets I would have rolled my eyes and got out of there. But he seemed so normal, pretty rooted in the everyday. He didn't give off any weirdness vibes at all, he was just speaking from the heart, from a place of love. And he acknowledged the fact that going to India was hard, that I might see death and mean-ness and all that, too, but that was all part of it. I was into it.
India is God. He said so.
And I'm going to India!