So here I am, once again sitting in an airport lounge awaiting a flight, this time to leave India and my fantastic sabbatical behind. There is something about airports which drains you of the ability to feel any emotion, which is a good thing, although I have been surprisingly calm about leaving, despite not looking forward to having to be a responsible adult with a job, once more. Obviously, I am keen to see my family, my dog, my friends and my house; equally obviously, I am sad to be leaving India which has provided me with such rich and unique experiences over the last 8 months.
Being totally knackered from driving all night in a rickshaw the above paragraph was all I managed to write at the airport. Now I am back in England, enjoying the bright, cool spring sunshine, showing off my tan to anyone who is interested (and quite a few who aren't) and wallowing for hours in a hot, fragrant bath. It is strange to be back for several reasons. Firstly, England and my parents' house, where I am staying for a while, is so familiar having been my home since I was 2 years old, that it barely seems as if I have been away at all. Secondly, flying is no way to join two destinations in a seamless fashion. Spending time in an airport and on a plane, creates a delineated separation, like a portal between two worlds where you are cleansed and reassembled before arriving at the next place. There is no ceremony in flying; it is the full stop and capital letter between locations. Obviously, unless I had wanted to spend two months on a ship travelling around the Cape of Good Hope or, perhaps to save a few weeks, through the Suez canal, flying is the only option, but it is a featureless, dry activity, that wrenches you from one place, shakes you around to disorientate you and drops you into another place without any warning.
Having said that, there was an observable transition during the trip. People became progressively greyer and more passing English language intruded into my consciousness as I left India, travelled through Dubai, got on a London bound plane and arrived in Gatwick. Eventually, the transformation was complete as everyone, with the exception of a Sikh Customs Official, looked pink and pale and their dull, quotidien, conversational snippets crashed through my consciousness like stones against a window. I don't want to know that Steve phoned yesterday and you wouldn't believe what he said. I don't want to hear that an Irishman is always behaving badly and not to, on this occasion, shame his wife at the Imigration counter. I especially don't then want to hear him showing her up, schmoozing the supremely uninterested Immigration Officer, who is wondering what he did in a former life which meant he had to work over the Easter Weekend. But, after months of blissful ignorance about the mindless chit chat people indulge in, on returning home it becomes claustrophobic. I must remember to change my "Bus-compressed-air-horn Ear Filter" for my "Drivel-people-talk-on-a -daily-basis Ear Filter".
You may think, reading the above that I am unhappy to be home and wish I were back in India. Well, that's not true. This trip came to a natural conclusion, and the law of diminishing returns was beginning to apply. It was time for the toddler of a project to take it's first independent steps and see whether, without my extreme bullying presence, it can develop further. Also, I have been away from clinical practice for a longtime and I was beginning to enjoy too much the freedom and lack of responsibility being thousands of miles away from your home confers. I really felt that staying longer would need justification to myself and any future employers. The best aspect of this trip is that it has not been a "once-in-a-lifetime" "never-to-be-repeated" opportunity, but the beginning of a professional and personal relationship which will enrich and inform my future practice and give me a perspective on issues to which I would have no access if I stayed all my working life in Cumbria. As someone said to me, it has become woven into my life and will be a continuous thread. That is why it doesn't feel strange enough being home. I now have the exciting task of figuring out how I am going to mould a professional life for myself which allows me to develop this new perspective and apply the learning experience I have had for the future.
Of course, at the moment, the thought of actually having a job, makes me nauseous.