It’s easy to love someone or something during the good times, but the true test of love is seen during the more challenging moments.
The first time I set foot in the mad city of Kolkata, I fell in love. Since then, I’ve been falling deeper and deeper in love with the former Indian capital each time I return to the city or meet a Bengali. My love was tested this past week.
I had to travel to Kolkata for a few meetings and initially I was over the moon. Given that I was in love with everything Kolkata and it is a "football heaven http://liveindia-lovesoccer.blogspot.in/2010/01/calcutta-football-heaven.html, there was no reason for me not to be excited. Then a few days before I picked up a nice fever with runny nose, headache and body pains all included. Although I was unwell, it wasn't going to stop me from being with my love.
I arrived in the city in the morning and, as soon as I got off the plane, the May Kolkata heat hit me hard. Real hard. The aches and pains were elevated to new heights. My colleague and I then literally jumped into a moving yellow taxi and took off on a death defying 1.5 hour journey through the city traffic in the sweltering heat with no AC.
We finally arrived at the hotel and my entire back was drenched with sweat. The thought of a nice cold shower seemed too good to be true, however the less than sanitary hotel room we checked into wiped away any interest of me wanting to take a shower or actually spend more time than necessary in the room. The next 2 days was full of long, hot taxi rides, annoyed people, a whole lot of smells and horrendous scenes of poverty.
During these 2 days, I became one of those disgruntled tourists who come to India and just complain about everything. I’ve never appreciated those people and it scared me that I was somehow turning into one of them. Fortunately, when I love something or someone, my love runs very deep. Sometime during day 2 I woke up. I remembered how blessed I am to have the opportunity to experience full living in a place as mad as a Kolkata.
The reality is that in just 2 days, I experienced more of myself and of life than I usually do in half a year of living in my pleasant Southern Californian childhood town. Once I remembered this, my love affair with Kolkata quickly came streaming back. Challenging transformed into intriguing and I started to create instead of survive.
I arrived back in Delhi a few nights ago still with a fever and aching body, but my heart was content. I knew that I wasn’t the same person who boarded the plane 2 days ago and that the oppressive May heat and crazy taxi drivers were not enough to take me away from my love.