When I was 13 my parent's and I traveled to India to see my sister and her husband. She had married a Naga Indian Baptist preacher from India. In a way, it was my worst trip because of delays and frightening experiances. The trip started out with a bang because our first flight from the U.S. to London was grounded longer than expected because of the worst fog that London had seen in a hundred years. The fog was so bad that not only we were in London longer than anticipated, but we were stuck in the hotel! The fog was so thick that we were unable to go anywhere more exciting than the hotel lobby, since no cabbies wanted to risk their lives for our entertainment . I did at last spend some time fascinated by the sight and the smell of the glowing wet whiteness that surrounded us. It felt as though we were swaddled in quiet soft layers of a watery dream.
The next flight proved even more exciting. After several hours, while I was walking to the bathroom the plane suddenly dropped 2 feet. This was my first experience finding myself suddenly floating in midair before dropping to meet the "ground". After walking a few more feet I had another first, I learned that when planes suddenly rise up while walking people discover that they are squatting. I continued bouncing along in the most thrilling trip to the bathroom I have ever experienced.
We bounced along in the sky for another 30 minutes while I sat securely buckled in my seat. When the bouncing stopped for a while we watched a movie and the lights went out so people could sleep. Everyone was able to sleep except me and the Brahmin Indian Hindu priest I had talked to briefly at the airport. We both, in our respective window seats stared out the window transfixed. For some reason, the air hostess started pulling windows down. Including mine! I just kept pulling mine up wondering what was going on. After the third time pulling our windows I looked at him questioningly. He shrugged. The pilot told everyone to be buckled and we began to bounce again. The hostesses glared at me and yanked my window closed again. When she left I stared out my window at the wing. The wing just beyond my window looked strange as if the end of the wing had become bumpy. I looked closer it had clear stuff on it, ice! I looked again, yep, still icy looking. I turned to my friend and pointed. He nodded.
I looked again and then back at him and whispered, “there is ice on the wing."
“Yes," he said, "I know."
"Should we tell the others?" I asked
"It will only scare them. Have you met your mother?"
I chuckled and then said, "what about the pilot?"
"He knows. Are you okay?" my friend whispered.
I took a deep breath and said, "I think so, scared but deep breathing is helping. What do we do?"
So we prayed for the rest of the flight and I took many deep breathes. When we landed safely I was overjoyed I loved everyone and I thought the” fresh” air, (the smells were strong) and the amazingly bright sunshine were the best things I had ever seen. I thought about kissing the earth. My new friend did! As I looked over and saw him I knelt down and touched the earth adoring the soft grey dirt like my friend with everyone else staring at us as if they were thinking what is wrong with them.
The rest of trip was amazing. The truth is sometimes our worst trips are also our best trips. I learned about the ways that culture influences people and met many interesting people and saw beautiful amazing things. I saw a jungle for the first time, parades of roaches, near naked holy men, beautiful old architecture, and the largest rat I have ever seen. Nothing was more exciting than my flight to India, though, and in a way it was a microcosm of the rest of the trip. When you travel, really travel, you learn to let go of trying to control what you can't control because it is an illusion. You learn that what you control is yourself. You learn to trust. You also learn that we have a lot of differences between us, but the most important things, no matter where we are from or who we are, are the things that connect us, and you that learn how to find these things and hold on to them.