Once a month, on a Saturday, I take my 10-year-old self to breakfast. There I get an egg scramble. He gets a stack of blueberry pancakes. I picture my younger self, sitting in the booth across from me with his turban tied low, just above his eyebrows, wearing a stained white kurta pajama, a blue pull over sweater and Pony Velcro sneakers, happily eating his pancakes. In this moment he is complete again. He is safe with me.
In March of 1984, at age 10, I boarded a Boeing 747 jet at JFK bound for New Delhi so I could attend school in India. Not only was I was saying goodbye to my parents and the life I knew in the U.S., but also part of my childhood.
For the next seven years I went on some of the most amazing adventures, scaling remote mountains in the Himalayas, inner tubing the Ganges, exploring the cities of Rajasthan and so much more. It was in India where I learned to fend for myself, treat others with respect and create bonds with other kids that made them family.
It is also where I learned that love and compassion for others when they were hurting was not available. Weakness, nor vulnerability were traits well looked upon. I was traumatized by systematic abuse and public humiliation.
This is a tough age to absorb these “lessons” as they are filtered through an immature mind, which doesn’t necessarily extract the right way to view what has happened. Rather they are buried and left to marinate in the subconscious. Until recently, my only experience with these traumas would be when they bubbled to the surface, through other traumatic moments, or trigger moments.
A year after one of these moments and 34 years after that first flight, I am once again on a plane in New York bound for New Delhi. What I will find when I return remains to be seen. I hope you will join me on this trip down memory lane as I share the places that make up such a large part of who I am today.