Transition #3

It’s been a week since I last posted on this blog, which is the longest I’ve gone without posting so far. I feel like I need to reach out before it gets to be much longer. A lot has happened in the past week: I said goodbye to Doha, I flew to Mumbai, I started getting settled into a completely new place (again), and I watched my home country elect Donald Trump as its next president.

The time difference between Mumbai and New York City is 10.5 hours, and for many other reasons I’ve never felt further from home. (Also, whose idea was it to throw an extra half hour in there?). I’m frustrated that I haven’t been able to take photos in a while. One reason that I was excited to post every few days in Sweden was the chance to visually show what I was seeing. I could share photos of my long walks in the different cities, of the pretty touristy scenes, of the funny exhibits in the many museums. I blended in and didn’t feel strange taking lots of photos.

In Doha, I had only one city and one museum to show you. There was hardly anything touristy to photograph, and I felt strange toting my fancy camera around. Furthermore, I was more stationary, staying in the same house for 4 weeks and not being able to use walking as a mode of transportation. Not only was I frustrated by the lack of exercise, but I wasn’t making fun detours down interesting streets, which also served as material for future blog posts. I met with doctors and patients, which provided less of an opportunity to take photos than my meetings with medical device companies and research institutes.

Now, I’m in Mumbai, where it would be unwise to take out my camera on the busy streets – I already stand out enough as is. Also, while far more people walk here, the city is still nothing like the calm, pedestrian-friendly Gothenburg. In this much larger and hotter and less safe city, I will not be venturing out for 12-mile walks through various neighborhoods and tourist destinations. I know far less of Mumbai after a week than I knew of Stockholm after a few days. I’m tired of not taking photos and not having them for the blog. I need to find a way to make this blog interesting for myself and its followers regardless of how challenging my environment is. I will be here in India for 3 months, and I need to make it work.

But so far, my time in Mumbai has been good. My host here, though now away on business, gave me a warm welcome by taking me out to great cafés and restaurants and introducing me to his friends. We all went to see Doctor Strange together at the movie theater nearby, and I went with his friends to a small wine festival over the weekend, which was a breath of fresh air after conservative Doha. I found an expat event where I could watch the election live, and I’ve already tried yoga here (it was incredible).

I don’t want to delve into the election here, but suffice it to say that I was disappointed, though not shocked. This is a historic moment for the United States, and it’s strange to be an expat as it unfolds. I’m not sure what to expect for the future, and I feel like I can’t say anything until after Inauguration Day. By the time I come home, Trump will have been active as President for a full 6 months, and by then we’ll have a sense of what our country looks like in his hands.

For now, I’m trying to focus on setting up project meetings for Mumbai. There are lots of interesting companies, startups, hospitals, organizations, and research institutes here, which all seem great for my project. But so far I have no meetings planned, and I’m trying to work on that. I’m also working on an article about my last project experience in Doha, so there’s plenty to do. Still, what has preoccupied my mind in this latest transition is what it feels like to keep moving further away from home while being unable to deny how much is happening in the United States right now. This is not the easiest time to be by myself without friends in a very foreign place. How much of myself did I leave behind in Doha, and how much of myself will I have to create here in Mumbai?  There is still so much of the Watson left – I’m less than a third of the way through – but I’m also beginning to feel like I’ve been away for a long while.

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