You only have a couple of hours left before your sixteen hour flight home and you are in search of something — an adventure or an experience of sorts — that will “complete” your extraordinary journey throughout India. A lot of the shops are closing since it is getting late and it is so hot you can barely breathe. What do you do? Well, I will tell you what I did. . .I got my arms henna’ed! Not only do I think it looks stunningly beautiful, but I also thought it would be nice to have a reminder once I returned home, albeit a temporary one, of my trip.
I ended up finding an adorable fourteen year old girl, who was back in Mumbai on her summer vacation from school. She had already decided at her young age that she wanted to be an architect. She said that her dream would cost a lot of money, so during the summers she would offer henna to tourists in order to save for her future higher education. I recognized myself in her ambitious spirit, as I too knew at fourteen what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
She asked me to tell her some of my favorite things. I mentioned butterflies, elephants, and flowers and the next thing I knew I had flowers all over my arms! She was definitely a master of her trade; not only was her work perfection, but she did it in less than fifteen minutes. She only charged me $10USD, however I chose to give her more and made her promise me that she would put it towards her education.
Nearby was a pink wall, which I thought would make for a great backdrop, so that I could properly display her work of art.
In this chaotic city, it can be difficult to escape the blaring horns and careening rickshaws, not to mention the hordes of fellow pedestrians. At sunset though you can head to the seaside promenade, with broad views of the water, in order to find some peace within the chaos. My friend Kristen and I returned for one last look of the Arabian Sea before heading back to our hotel to gather our luggage. Do you recall that I said I was at first disappointed with it? Well, my second time left me with a completely different impression. How could I not be enchanted with a body of water being illuminated by a pink sky? This is the exotic image that I had conjured in my mind for so many years!
Back at our hotel, while I was waiting for a table to become available in the restaurant we were having our last meal of the trip, I befriended the owner of the gift shop. He tried to tempt me to extend my stay in Mumbai. It was Friday night and he wanted to show me the nightlife of Mumbai. I needed to return home for work and I did not want to abandon Kristen, so I begrudgingly declined. I must admit, as the plane took off six hours late due to a delay, I experienced one of my biggest feelings of regret I have every experienced while traveling. I should have stayed.
On my long flight back to the States, I had plenty of time to reflect on my eleven glorious days in India. I knew that I had to return. The planet is huge and life is short, but my time with India was not over.
Being in India is like stroking a starving tiger; as much as it tests your limits by making you move outside your comfort level, for those moments it allows you to touch it, you know you are blessed, as you have discovered the heights of achievement you are capable of attaining, and you feel immortal.