Farewell St. Louis, Namaskar India by way of NYC

It’s hard to believe that this journey has finally begun. I booked my flight to India back in April and I am now sitting in the airport in Brussels, waiting to board my connecting flight to Mumbai. The sun is stretching its rays across this corner of the world and it is a brisk 4 degrees Celsius.

Just under one week ago I arrived in New York. Since my flight departed from Newark International Airport, I decided to head to New York a little early to visit with friends, most of whom I met on a study abroad program in college. It was a sweet experience, visiting with friends who can truly imagine and appreciate the adventures that await me. And I found comfort in hearing that, despite the drastic differences that are expected when one lives in New York and another in St. Louis, many of my friends are confronting similar questions about work, relationships, and life in general as we round out our twenties and approach our thirties. My visit was a perfect balance of moments of self-reflection And inspiration and time spent in the company of dear friends. By the time Wednesday came, I was feeling very ready to set off to India. I spent the afternoon at the MoMA which deserves its own blog post. Hopefully I can whip one out during the free hour of wifi that I have here at the Brussels airport, although it isn’t looking promising…

Before leaving for New York, I had a small get together with friends in St. Louis. A chat that I had with Joel, a dear friend of mine whom I met in St. Louis while working as an AmeriCorps VISTA, has stayed present in my thought. The nature of this project is very undetermined and unpredictable, quite fluid and depends on more visions than just my own. As such, it can be hard to describe what I am hoping to do when I return to Mulgavan. 

Joel was in the PeaceCorps in Tanzania in the mid-80s. When I speak  with him, both about his experience in Tanzania and mine in India, so much can be left unsaid. Joel understands why I was only just beginning to feel like I fit in, to grasp the language, that I knew my way around, only beginning to feel a deeper connection with everyone that I was working with in Mulgavan when I had to leave. He understands the utter importance of not outlining the specifics of this project before I have a chance to reconnect with the farmers that I lived and worked with in Mulgavan. He reminds me of the value of listening and observing, of slowing down and setting personal goals aside and embracing a collaborative communal vision – even when it is one that I may never be able to fully understand. 

And so, as I begin this next chapter of my time with cotton farmers in India, I am reminding myself of all these important lessons that Joel sweetly reminded me of on my last night in St. Louis as we sat around a campfire, enjoying one of the first chilly autumn nights of the season. 

It looks like this is where I have to end for this post today. My flight to Mumbai is boarding and my hour of wifi has quickly disappeared. 

Until next time, Aaron

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