We've landed in Hong Kong Airport, many miles and a moon from our sweetly nurturing launch pad in Calistoga. Our mission: to entertain ourselves here for the next seven hours (as opposed to elsewhere on this lovely little island or in the city) due to swine flu concerns. From my station on a lozenge-shaped lounge chair on the upper level, I can see surgi-masked travellers with their competent luggage clipping briskly towards the departure gates below. The students have been let loose with their $10 per diem to soak in these last hours of immaculately scrubbed floors, duty-free shopping, and untroubled digestion before the last leg to Delhi.
The mantle of leadership still rests fairly innocuously on my shoulders, as the comforting capsule of international flights keeps us all within well and frequently fed distance of each other. Yes, there have already been tears and tensions, but I cannot suppress the urge to say that I really like these people, and am having something that feels suspiciously like fun, even while suffering the extortion of airport currency exchange agents, and the neuron-deadening exhaustion of 30 plus hours of travel. Of course, my life is still largely my own, and India has yet to sweep us up in her quixotic embrace.
Successes for the day:
figuring out what day and time it is
resetting my watch to account for said information
acquiring food (mystery squiggly marine life in hot rice broth)
finding a quiet airport nook to pull 3 chairs together for an illicit nap
-and it's not even 10am yet! So, despite the fact that we missed Thursday altogether (one of my favorite days as a college undergrad, as it heralded the first night of the weekend's debauchery)due to time zone changes I will probably never fully grasp, I am feeling quite content to revel in these small triumphs. From here, I can look out across the tiers of shops and restaurants, and watch as my students wend their bleary way through flourescent-lit noodle bars and glittering jewelry kiosks.
It's happening. I am starting to love them in that now-familiar inexplicable way- for their expectations (soon to be ungently dismantled), for their anxieties (soon to pale in comparison to challenges they could never imagine), and for their energy and curiousity, which has already bolstered my own flagging reserves. So though my eyeballs feel like a pair of fried egges from too many sleepless, contorted hours in canned air, and the seafood squigglies from my morning rice porridge are beginning a tentative rhumba just behind my navel, life on Concourse F seems sweet indeed.