Today I left Sielmat. This morning, Rosie came over for one last morning on the balcony at the Bangla where we shared allll the sentiments and eased into the day. Later on, friends and family arrived at the house to send me off in prayer. I’m always overwhelmed with gratitude for getting to be a part of a Christ following family because of how comforting it is to depart from places knowing that I have been prayed for. I’m sentimental and Jesus is so good.
Anyway, domestic travel through India is not glamorous. It’s loud. The smells are unavoidable. The stares from being a foreigner are obvious. And there’s not really a “system” in the whole process from walking into the airport to getting on the plane.
I’m traveling from Imphal to Guwahati (and then on to Shillong). The drive to the airport was almost two hours from Sielmat. I got to the airport to a huge herd of people making 3 really unclear lines at the entrance of the airport. The airport process here is: show boarding pass to get in, sign in at foreigners desk, run luggage through security screening, check in at airline desk and drop off baggage, go through security, then board the flight!
I was really anxious about going through this airport alone. My memories of traveling out of Imphal are blurry and overwhelming, plus I always had my mom with me to lead the way, so I never had to take initiative for things. My confidence and assertiveness are for sure growing on this trip since I don’t have my mom here to do everything for me. When I got to the foreigners desk, the attendant asked if I was traveling alone. He replied with a big “wow”. He then said, “You are related to the Pudaites, no?” I replied “Yes! You know my family?” And he told me about how he knows my grandmother well. His face lit up talking about my family, and I was like thank you Jesus, I’ll get through this.
He ended up helping me through the next few steps through the airport. He let me cut lines, and approached all desks with me. When I found out that my bags were going to cost 2500 rupees (almost 40 USD) for the excess weight, I asked the lady at the counter if I could pay less because I am traveling from the States. She said she wouldn’t change anything, so the attendant that was assisting me grabbed another guy and they said they were going to take care of me and that I should just sit and rest while they help waive the fees. Flash forward a few minutes and they have returned to me with a new boarding pass, fees waived, AND my seat upgraded. Traveling mercies af am I right?
This morning before heading out to the airport, I asked my Uncle Lal for tips on begging for a bargain with my overweight baggage. The airline I am flying from Guwahati to Goa only allows 15kg for your check in bag and 7kg for carry on items when flying domestically. All my bags totaled over 30kg and I was freaking out about how much it would cost to pay for all of the overweight. Uncle Lal said that on the airline I am flying, there is a guy that works at the check in desk named Michael. He’s from Nagaland, where my Aunt Lipono is from. Uncle Lal has chatted with him before, he’s a Christian, and last time let Uncle Lal bargain his baggage price down. I prayed all morning that traveling mercies would manifest themselves in getting to be at this guy’s desk.
After a 3 hour road trip from Shillong to Guwahati, I arrived at the airport, anxiety in full swing. I approached the check in counter and saw the guy Uncle Lal told me about, but was beckoned to a different desk. The girl was very stiff about my overweight bags and wanted me to shuffle some things around. In the process of shuffling my stuff and waiting or her to be free again, Michael’s desk opened up. So I asked if I could switch over to him. I told him that my uncle and I prayed for him this morning, and asked if he remembered who he was. He was so full of warmth toward me and my anxiety started easing up. After chatting a bit and exchanging lots of smiles, he totally took me by surprise. He waived all my extra overweight fees. ALL of it. AND he gave me really good seats on my flights.
Co-Worx Cyber Cafe, Goa
Today is my second full day in Goa. I am still in awe of the favor God has had on my travel days. His kindness towards me is evident even in these things where I don't often find myself pleading for his aid. One of the biggest things I have been working on over the past year has been teaching myself that I am worthy of goodness. Over the past months I have come a really long way in how I think about the things that happen to me. I once felt so unworthy of good things, destined to a life of struggle, viewing every situation as hard. But throughout this whole trip, I have experienced how beautiful it is to be out of the negative cognition that I am not worthy of goodness. I have learned yet again from the easy yoke of Jesus Christ and some wise words of Rosaria Butterfield that I can go through hard things, but that does not mean life is hard. Life does not have to be a struggle, living each day with expectations of hardship. I now believe we can be free and experience goodness.
endnote: I wanted to title this piece "traveling mercies are saving my ass" but I didn't think my parents would appreciate that :-/