One minute ago, I opened my laptop to begin writing this blogpost, seated at gate 3 in Cochin International Airport.
One hour ago, I was in line waiting to enter the airport without a print out (evidently, an iPhone picture of my flight itinerary is not the same idea).
Two hours ago, I was frantically transcribing my “I miss you” letters in Bangla onto elephant dung paper as I ate my last dinner with the interns. It was chicken and “Indian-style salad.”
Three years ago, I was in the same position. I was in South Asia, I had just finished an internship at an eco resort, and I was already contemplating how I would come back. I sat in Bangladesh’s major international airport thinking about how my past two months at Panigram (which, coincidentally is being developed and will be operated by La Paz Group, the organization responsible for Raxa Collective) were so wonderful, enriching, eye-opening, and everything in between and that I had to come back to see the boutique resort completed. Would it be just an emotional return? Maybe getting a tattoo in Bangla script? Would I come back for my “I’m done with undergrad” senior trip?
Spending two months in Bangladesh with three hotelies afforded me everlasting friendships and a fondness for South Asia. Jonathon and I, specifically, tag-teamed each other around the world. We would meet in exotic cities all around the globe, any city was fine, just not Jessore, Bangladesh. We had a pact for that: “we’re going back to Panigram together, okay?”
Before I could find my way back to South Asia, South Asia, as corny as it sounds, found me! I met with Jon one day in Rome for pizza. “Chi-Chi. You won’t believe this. Someone named Crist Inman contacted me via LinkedIn about an internship opportunity. I have a really good feeling about this one! He’s also looking for a 4th or 5th year architecture intern. I’ll forward it to you!” And with that, everything fell into place, I returned to South India to intern with Raxa Collective, another hospitality-, community empowerment-, sustainability-, and South India-related group with a strong vision that I support and echo.
So I’ve come full circle. I sit here now in Cochin International Airport. Gate 3. Singaporeans surround me, all of us eagerly awaiting the gate to open and let us on our flight back home to Singapore. I can’t believe I am leaving India. So many things about this airport parallel my memories of when I was waiting for my flight home from Dhaka, Bangladesh. The next time I write, on elephant dung paper or bamboo paper or rice paper or whatever eco- contextual- cultural- paper, I’ll be in this same position, but in a different time and place: running out of the house/apartment/shack/who-knows-what, eating my last bite of chicken and penning down: “Namaskaran! It’s been a while and I miss you, my friends in Kerala.”