Home. And it's cold. Can I say a giant BOOO, cold weather and rain and ice. In just one short month in India, I'd forgotten about dampness. Like when you go outside to look for the Sunday paper, which is not there, and it's slippery and chilly and grey. Thick sheets of packed-down dirty ice on the steps and walk. Hard to believe that two days ago, I was experiencing winter in Chennai, which means 8o-degree-weather and a sweater, lightweight and cotton, only twice in 30 days.
The trip home was long but fine. We did spend more time in London than expected. Someone had a ladder up beside the plane, which was fine until refueling started, the plane got heavier, and dipped down onto the ladder, which created a small hole in the wing area. (I didn't learn this until waiting in the Immigration line at O'Hare after landing.) They photographed the hole, sent the picture through email to the engineers, and eventually determined that it was not a good idea to fly over ten hours with a little hole in the plane. Thus, we sat for about three hours in the old plane until they found the new plane, transferred crew and passengers by bus (for some reason, everything international at Heathrow involves taking buses back and forth from plane to terminal to new plane), and then waited some more.
The good news? On the flight from Chennai to London, we were upgraded from coach to something called World Traveler Plus. From now on, I ALWAYS want to be World Traveler Plus. Only two seats instead of three, so no pesky climbing over people you don't know to use the bathroom. Bigger, more comfy seats, which lean back nicely and have a footrest for propping your stocking-feet upon. A decent tray for the always terrible airplane food. (Why do they put red onion on the cheese sandwich? And something even my husband, much less fussy than me about food, in the salad that could not be identified as any known food item. Vegetable pate in the box breakfast?) And movies on demand, so that you don't tune in halfway through a second-run movie or Arrested Development, as we did for hours on the London-Chicago run. (Though Hellboy II? Genius! Who knew it would be that funny? And the special effects/superhero/monsters by Guillamo de Toro - fantastic.)
When we finally arrived home, I greeted the dog (I do think that he remembered me, and my housesitter deserves an award for the month that she spent with him), walked over to the convenience store to get milk (ah milk, that won't turn sour within one day of purchase because the elecrticity keeps going on and off), took a shower, read a magazine, and went to sleep. Today I feel tired and headachy and wierded out by the weather. I'm going to unpack, try to finish the sock that I knit 3/4 of on the plane, go to the supermarket (vegetables whose peel I can eat, things that go into an oven, but no more cookies, because I've already eaten about a half-dozen that the wonderful housesitter baked for us), perhaps buy some wood to make a fire, and try to readjust to life at home. I miss India already. I had a moment on the plane when I thought, what is wrong with everyone? So much pushing and rushing to get to the front of lines that are not going anywhere, so little beauty in the way people are dressed, so much need for jackets and boots and hats, no constant honking and zig-zagging about lanes of traffic to avoid bicycles and cows and motorbikes and buses and rickshaws. It all seems very flat and grey in Illinois. It will take some time to readjust to being back, which is not what I would have expected when I left for Chennai a very short month ago. My goal today: stay busy and try not to think of all the ways that things are different. If nothing else, maybe I will someday learn: it's all about change. And attitude.