Sunday, August 31, 2008


We were pretty excited to land in Atlanta, and hear English spoken everywhere, and even more excited to land in Kansas. Hooray! What a lovely, sensible airport we have, with signs in English and such an easily accessible layout.

Our friend Steve Trana met us, and smilingly loaded all 12 bags into his vehicle while we excitedly chattered about India, Paris, and asked all kinds of questions about home.

We walked into our house, and everything felt strange, yet familiar. We felt like we were in someone else’s house, and felt silly for feeling that way.

Carpet felt so strange, as did drinking from the tap and using a dishwasher.

For the first couple of weeks, we felt like we were halfway in India and halfway in Kansas. We kept thinking about what we would be doing if we were in India at that time of day, and wondering about our Indian friends, and missing them very much. On the other hand, it was wonderful to see our family and friends in the U.S. again, and tell them all about our experiences.

It took a good month before we felt like we really were back in the swing of things. Many thanks to those family members and friends who understood that we needed some time to adjust before we jumped back into home life.

Things that we found odd upon our return to the U.S.

  • The feeling of carpet under our feet (for 2 months we hadn’t even seen carpet—we had tile floors)
  • No moustaches
  • Americans show lots more skin than Indians do
  • For the first 8 days we were home, I was freezing (it was about 80 to 90 degrees outside). I wore my heaviest sweat pants, sweat shirt and socks and was still cold.
  • There is so little color here. Things look drab. No bright saris, chudy-das, nor colorful shop-fronts everywhere.
  • There is nothing interesting to look at when you drive around.
  • It is so, so quiet on the streets here.
  • It felt strange to drive again.
  • It is strange to understand everything that is being said around us again. We got used to being in a constant state of confusion for 2 months.
  • I found myself, more than once, just staring at people who were talking to each other, especially when they were using slang. I haven’t heard fluent conversations in English (outside of our family) for so long.
  • It’s strange NOT to have people staring at us. Nobody takes the least notice of us, now.
  • It’s strange to talk on the phone again. For two months, I had phone conversations either with Byron when he was at work, or with Indians whom I didn’t really understand. It’s actually odd to talk on the phone and understand what the other person is saying!
  • American birds sing so sweetly. Indian birds (at least in Chennai) do more squawking and screeching, and make noise. They don’t sing like American birds do.

The first night I crawled into my bed in Kansas, I was astounded. “This is THE most comfortable bed I have ever slept on!” I thought. “I am so completely comfortable—why, I don’t think I could be in more luxury!” (We’d had a rather hard mattress in Chennai. Apparently box springs, soft pillows, and soft sheets DO make a difference).

What I miss:

  • The cheerful, “Good morning, Ma’am,” which I got every single day from Chandra-shake-uh and Mani
  • Someone else cleaning up after meals
  • Shopping in T. Nagar
  • The extra time I had to read to the girls and watch them play
  • The clothesline
  • The colorful saris and chudy-das, and the gentle jingling sound the ladies make as they walk around in their bangles and ankle bracelets
  • Saying, “Follow Mani!” to the girls
  • Finding something fascinating to watch or look at every time I looked out the window of the car/autorickshaw
  • Mani’s help in getting the kids and the stroller into and out of the car
  • Having Mani drop me and the kids off while he goes and parks the car.
  • Chandra-shake-uh making the girls laugh

What I do NOT miss:

Having my doorbell ring several times a day, and having people in my house all hours of the day
  • Being stared at in public
  • Being confused and not really sure what people are saying
  • Having to drink bottled water
  • The girls having no place to play outdoors
  • Trying to figure out the conversion rate of rupees to dollars, or worse, of Euros to dollars
  • People pinching Heidi’s cheeks
  • The first week we were home, Erin and Lily played outside all day, every day. They just couldn’t get enough of it. In particular, they loved playing with mud! Then the mosquitoes, chiggers, and spiders in the backyard started to get to them, and they’re not so starved for “outside time, “ as they were when we first got home.

    Now that we’ve been home for a couple of months, we have found people who didn’t know that we had a blog. So, if you’re a newcomer, enjoy! If you were able to hang with us for this long, I would, if I could, award you a medal. Consider yourself knighted as a “Survivor of the Burke India Blog.”

    --Ye Olde Blogwriter and Co.

    1 comment:

    Wendy said...

    I have laughed and cheered, oo'd and aw'd, gasped and groaned with you through your delightful and intriguing journey these past 6 months! Through your eyes, I now see India and the people who live there, with tenderness and familiarity. Welcome Home, Burke Family, and thank you for sharing!