I have said little about my travel companions, two very different people, and all three of us thrown by happenstance and the allure of India.
Annette and I made independent decisions to come here this summer. We go to the same school and were friends-of-friends before we realized our common interests. I still am puzzled as to how we didn’t meet earlier, but acquaintances are often concentric in a place as large as KU. When we discovered that our travel dates overlapped by two weeks, we decided to travel together.
We met Anne for the first time at the Newark Airport. She is studying at the University of Hyderabad with me this summer, but goes to school in Utah. Already in these two weeks we have seen each other at our worst and most elated. Now we lounge around in our sports bras together in the heat, as if friends for years.
The choice to travel with two mild acquaintances could have been disastrous. This is something none of us gave much thought to because we are young and face consequences that are resolved emotionally through the simplicity of enough complaining. However, the parts of our trip were a disaster destroyed the reserve between strangers and solidified our attachment quickly. “To get close to someone, go to Delhi,” we keep saying.
But yesterday Annette left us. Her plans took her farther to Varanasi, then moving down South, and eventually, home. Anne and I have to get to school soon, too. We saw her off to the train station in the hostel lobby at 11 pm. Knowing the cruel, hard, wonderful world she was entering in solitude we felt a bit like mothers sending their child to Kindergarten Day 1, especially as she stood before us in her overly large backpack with bleary and antsy eyes.
Annette’s cheer and calm gives her a penchant for quick friendships and will undoubtedly help her on her journey. We are concerned for her safety for this very reason too. She is watchful, though, through the politeness. We miss her already in the flavor of our humor and decisions. The breadth of our independent travels and ultimate reunion excuses it.