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The echoes of Jeff Buckley. An autorickshaw roars by an airport runway. I came in as a stranger, left as a friend. I came in unsure what I was looking for, I left knowing what I needed to search for.

It’s not about sights I’ve seen or places I’ve been. Those play second fiddle to the countless unfamiliar beds, floors, sleeper buses, trains, flights, and bathrooms. Second fiddle to the countless moments of loneliness and ephemeral relationships, to the countless hassles and barganing touts, to the countless tricycles, rickshaws and taxis, to the countless faces and conversations.

It’s not about the destinations.

It’s about that note you slipped into my hand at Calcutta Airport asking me out to coffee,

how you let me feet rest on your lap at 3 in the morning before my flight to Varanasi,

how we laughed into the late nights of Singapore,

the dinner we enjoyed under the shadow of the Golden Temple in Amritsar,

the 3 hour history lesson from WWI to the Israel-Palestine conflict while overlooking the Ganges at night,

the nod of your head to accompany me from Jodhpur to Udaipur since you couldn’t speak a word of English,

the weekend trip to Mamallapuram you let me take you and your friends,

the old friends and new friends of friends in Mumbai,

the silent cab ride we shared to Varanasi airport,

the delicious desserts we shared at a lounge in Delhi airport,

the undying hospitality of an acquaintance and your family in Hyderabad,

the undying hospitality of an old friend and your family in Mumbai,

the random conversation between strangers on a Hyderabad bus that led to 2 surreal days in Singapore,

the lunch you invited me to after 2 minutes of introductions at an internet cafe in Amritsar,

the familiarity of a school dorm and lecture hall at the Indian School of Business,

the sheesha puffed into our mouths on Arab Street,

the sheesha puffed into our mouths in Hyderabad,

the dance-off we had in Mumbai,

the home-cooked meals in over 15 cities,

the 5 days together starting from a quick question about Hampi temples to being roommates on the beaches of Goa,

the reunion handshake while waiting for the bus to Mamallapuram,

the reunion hug in Jaipur after 3 days apart,

the reunion hug on a rooftop bar in Bangalore after a week apart,

the reunion hug in Singapore after 2 weeks apart,

the reunion hug in Singapore after a month apart,

the reunion hug in JFK Airport after a few months apart,

the reunion hug in a Chennai hotel after a year apart,

the way you came out from your GRE class just to hug me before I left for Hampi,

the way I looked back at you in the cab,

the moment I asked to give me your hand in saying goodbye,

…and the way I say all my goodbyes: the kind of embrance no one forgets, the three seconds of wishing you could say and do more, the final look in the eyes before life moves on, the turn of the back that you wish could just mean “see you soon.”

Well, friends, see you soon. Kuch bhi ho sakhta hai.

 

Jamie and I climb up Mamallapuram on my last day in India