Shell Shocked

Day 3 in Ghana and I believe my daughter is in deep shock. She hasn’t said as much in her emails to me, but I recognize the signs. She talks about not having any electricity, and about the fact that all her clothes are saturated with red dirt. She talks of the fact that so much in the city is broken or breaking down. She does not yet talk about the beauty of the place or the people. That will come, but she cannot yet see those things.

I was reminded of my first few days in India, back in 1984. Iris’ emails prompted me to pull out my journal from that trip. Here’s some of what I wrote in the first 48 hours of landing in (then) Bombay:

Images: A young boy with no legs, hauling himself around on a kind of cart, begging for money. Blind men with pupils rolled into their eye sockets, wandering with their hand out for money. A child holding his very sick little sister, begging for help. A shoe shine boy, wanting to make Joe’s white sneakers black so he could earn a few cents. And always the never-ending offer from venders to buy a ‘beautiful’ this or that. And you feel so rich and so selfish and you want it all to go away so you don’t have to think about it or cope with it.

I laugh now…we were so ill prepared for going from the tiny community of Iqaluit (population 2,500) to Mumbai (population 12.5 million); from -40 degrees to +40 degrees. We had booked no hotel that first night, thinking we would just ‘wing it’. Ridiculous, given that we knew we’d be arriving in the city in the middle of the night. It was definitely baptism by fire, but things got much better after a few days. There were many things I came to love about India. But those first few hours still haunt me, especially that image of the young boy with no legs.

So hang in there Iris. Life will seem much brighter in no time.


3 thoughts on “Shell Shocked

  1. She’s studying African dance, music and history at a university there. Just for the summer. I think once she gets settled in she’ll realize what an amazing opportunity this is. Actually, she phoned me today and is sounding much happier than in her recent emails, so that’s good.


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