When I landed in the US for the first time, I was fine for a couple of weeks. No sign of homesickness or depression. After all there were so many new and exciting things to see, observe and experience. New place, new people, new culture, new everything! And, as I have mentioned many times before, my apartment mates were totally awesome people who went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and settled in. So, though I missed my parents, my sister, my extended family and of course, good old Chennai, I was doing pretty okay. Hey, I could make it through the two years of my master's program!
Then one day, I came back a little early from school and there was no one else home yet. All of a sudden, without any warning, homesickness hit. The more I tried to curb it, the more depressed and lonely I felt. I did not want to call home - one thing I learnt from my hostel stay is never to call your parents when you are away from home and feeling depressed. The thing is, while you get over the depression soon after the talk is done, your parents take over your worrying and they worry for a looong time. Parents, bless them, are like that!
So I called up a friend, S, instead. S advised me to start planning for my first trip back to India. It did not really matter when I actually would make the trip, just planning would make me feel better. It seemed like a silly idea - I had landed from India just a couple of weeks ago, and I already should plan about my first trip back home? Anyways, I followed S's suggestion, and guess what, in some weird way, just planning about a India-visit calmed me down! I think it was the feeling of doing something about my homesickness!
Forward to ten months later. It was summer and I decided that it was high time to make a trip back home. After deliberation, December was set as the chosen month. Somebody had told me when I initially arrived that going back to India for the first time ever after staying in the US is one of the pleasantest experiences ever. They were so right. Just the thought of going back to Chennai brought a smile to my lips. The Fall quarter that year was one of my toughest quarters during the whole of my study in Davis. But I bore it all with equanimity - I was going home :-)! Everything was planned out - my research advisor agreed upon my vacation days, I sorted out my grading duties with my TA profs, my course instructor agreed to let me take the exam early.
The day I got my airline tickets in hand, I felt like I had got the tickets to paradise. In between all this excitement, of course, there was all the India Shopping to be done. I made the list of all gift recepients and then spent a lot of time thinking over what to get for everyone. Another friend of mine, A, was also making her first India trip. Together we shopped, shopped and shopped. By walk, by bus, by car - wherever we went, we were sure to come back with additions to our India shopping bounty. By some coincidence, though we had bought our tickets at different times, A and I were on the same flight till Hong Kong. Then she would take the connections to Hyderabad and I would take the ones to Chennai.
Finally the great D-day arrived. Our friends helped us with our huge suitcases. And we boarded the airporter. We were on our way! The flight journey was a normal, extremely long trip to India. But of course, I did not notice the passage of time. In another 30 hours I would be home. Then another 24 horus. Then another 10 hours. Time just flew. Then 2 hours. And finally, I was in Chennai!!! When I got out of the airport, there was my family, my cousins, my relatives - a whole bunch of people had come to receive me. I felt like a celebrity :-)! Home sweet home!
The one month of stay in India just flew by. Coming back to the US was misery. For a month after my return, I wondered what on earth I was doing in the US. If I had any sense whatsoever I should just rush back home again. Of course, as the months went by, that feeling slowly slipped into the background. Till it was time to plan another trip back home ...
All these fond memories are coming back because I am going on vacation to India next week :-). Ever since I contacted the travel agent, the days are just flying by. The countdown has begun - only 10 days to go :-D! Chennai, here I come!