Tuesday, December 21, 2010
One Last Adventure
I step onto the tarmac and take a final picture of Bhutan. Then I continue walking towards the airplane. The pilot steps out and reaches his hand out to me, “Madam Kellie, welcome! Come with me.” He is a father of one of my students and recognized me from the tarmac. He escorts me away from Economy where I was headed to executive class, right next to another ELC student. After all the passengers have boarded, the Stewardess tells me that the captain is requesting I follow her to the cockpit. I thought that I would get a quick view and then be escorted back to my seat, but no, they strap me into a seat right in the center, happy strap and all.
As we shuttle down the runway the pilot explains the wind direction and how complicated it is to land and take off in Paro. The tower gives the final okay and he turns to me, “Are you ready?” The engines start roaring. Am I really leaving Bhutan in the cockpit of a jet? We speed down the runaway and I crane my neck to take in every last view. The sky couldn’t be more blue. We rise into the air and the pilot points out a tiny Tiger’s Nest beneath us. Having this jet last time I hiked it would have been very convenient. In the distance appears Kachanchunga, the highest mountain in India and the third highest peak in the world. Surfacing above the clouds in the far distance is Everest.
Soon everything is silent and we start talking about his daughter and the quality of secondary schools in Thimphu, his sister living in New York City. As if he’s not flying a plane full of people. As if we aren’t surrounded by the highest, most glorious peaks on the planet. As if we aren’t soaring as high as the atmosphere will let us. “How long will you be in Bangkok?” he asks. “Oh, I’m actually not getting off in Bangkok, I’m getting off in India.”
So before heading back to the US to settle down, get married, have some kids, learn to cook (just kidding grandma, you wish), I will be settling in India. My plan is to realize my dream of becoming an ambulant salesperson selling shell roti and fireworks. I will work one week a year during Diwali and live off the profits the rest of the year. Just kidding again. But I am going to India. The plan is to drink tea in Darjeeling, take a photo in Princess Diana’s pose at the Taj Mahal, and who knows what I will do with myself in Delhi.
The Bhutanese do not agree with this decision:
“They cut off people’s heads for American passports in Delhi.”
“You should duct-tape your money to your inner thigh and lock yourself in your hotel room. Don’t come out for ANYTHING.”
Bhutanese: “ Once, my friend went to India.” Me:“Oh, how did she enjoy it?” Bhutanese: “Nobody ever saw her again.”
“The strongest man I know was drugged and robbed at the train station in India. They took his leather jacket. He never got it back.”
But before I can be consumed by the India subcontinent and all the unsavory creatures that dwell there, I would like to say thank you for reading and I’ll miss you. From the sound of things, it is more likely for me to come back dead than alive.