The feeling before new adventure. Why isn’t there a word in the English language for this? Excitement. Fear. Happiness. Nervousness. Exhaustion. All muddled together in what a dear friend would describe as “emotional fullness.” That’s the best phrase I’ve got.
I, a rather emotionally-full and extremely bedraggled human, stumbled out of the Bangalore airport at 4:00 am on Thursday, September 19. I had passed through the trials and tribulations of the 30 hour journey thus far – flights, security, customs, with only a minor hiccup in Abu Dhabi when security confiscated my batteries (can’t win them all). Now, what was left, the final frontier – finding my new coworker, Gilgy, and the drive to Prasanthagiri village, my new home.
After soliciting a stranger to let me use her phone, I found Gilgy, “Ms. Julianna Joss Profugo” sign in tow. He and Binoy, Profugo’s trusted driver, had left Valad at 5:00 pm the previous day to drive through the night to meet me when I arrived in Bangalore 4:00 am. I could not believe the generosity of this Herculean task – all to receive me, the fatigued, yet overly-enthused American, at the airport and ensure my safe arrival to Valad (the town where Prasanthagiri is located). I spent the greater part of the eight hour car journey profusely thanking them. They did not seem to see the task as a burden at all, rather they seemed content to drive for the 20 hours – no problem. I am quickly learning kindness and hospitality are the cultural norm here.
The car journey itself elicited wonder. Nose essentially pressed against the glass, I marveled at the scenes. Colorful buildings, young girls with backpacks walking to school, signage with phrases like “Keep Nice Road Clean,” a pack of stray dogs surrounding a man for an unknown reason. As we ventured further south, the spectacular green scenery began. Gilgy said, “Just wait – Valad is even more beautiful than this.” To get to Prasanthagiri, we had to cut through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve and what a treat. As we wove through this nature sanctuary, we saw gorgeous deer, monkeys, a peacock, and even a wild elephant. I was utterly astounded. Fun fact: it’s impossible to be jetlagged when you’re driving through a tiger reserve.
We arrived in Prasanthagiri and after Gilgy carried my 23 kg suitcase on his head through unpaved path and up a slippery hill with ease, I met Ms. Rosa, who will be hosting me for the next few weeks. After settling in, I was delighted to reunite with Beatrice, my fellow Fellow, who is also living with Ms. Rosa temporarily. I am grateful to have a partner in this adventure.