North Tour: It begins

Monday, 28 Feb

NAGPUR TO JAIPUR: It’s 10:47 p.m., and no one on this train is awake but us.

Actually, that’s not true. In Car No. 8 of the Chennai-Jaipur Express, the lights are still on in some compartments. One man is standing idle by an outlet, charging his phone. The Indians in neighboring compartments are covered in blankets and look like they’re sleeping. But every so often someone’s covers will ruffle in a telltale sign of failed sleep. A baby is crying. Someone’s cell phone just rang. A chai-wallah is calling into the silence, his day of sales continuing through the night.

But I think we’re actually the reason everyone is still awake.

Yes, the RYE students’ 26-day tour of North India is underway, and thus far, nothing could be better (save Franzi’s ankle, which has left her on crutches). The internal chemistry – so good during the South Tour and at Christmas – has picked up right where it left off. There was no need for group introductions this time. We’ve been able to jump right into the stories of our two months apart.

Our group is smaller this time. Sebastian and Sabrina have since gone back to their home countries. Aafreen is busy with exams in Yavatmal. Dascha, Jakob and Michelle, for various reasons, are staying back in Nagpur. New to our group is Samantha, a student from the American state of Virginia being hosted in Hyderabad. Having had seven months to get used to each others’ quirks, and more tightly knit than ever, I anticipate we’ll all get along quite well.

For probably the last time this year, I enjoyed nice weather in Nagpur today. While the climates in our homes across various ponds will go from bad to better, that of Nagpur will go from better to worse. But weather is nothing to worry about. In fact, thanks to the people I’ll be spending the next month with, there’s really nothing to worry about.

Will I sleep well tonight? Probably not.

But I could care less. I’m with the right people. All is well.



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