Leaving India didn't become a reality until I landed in Heathrow and caught my connecting flight back. I thought I would have a stronger twinge of sadness, but the experience of India has been far too joyful. After a couple of months being back in Houston, I realize I really do want to get back to work and start a new chapter. I'm looking forward to seeing what's up around the bend and I'm happy to have spent time with my sister and just recently, my brother. But it's time to leave.
Houston has a lot to offer, but it's not for me. I do love the place, but when I say I don't like it, I mean that there isn't enough to keep me engaged here on a long-term daily basis. It is the very definition of urban sprawl, it's too amorphous for my taste, but it's hugely diverse and demographically a picture of how the rest of the country is going to look in the coming decades. I've waited my entire life for this moment when diversity wouldn't be merely a liberal day-dream but an actual, social reality.
Sadly, Houston is suffers from a lack of coordinated planning, no zoning and a stalled mass transit development that could help give the city a sense of identity and definition that she still lacks. There are distinct personalities to U.S. cities like New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. But Houston? The fourth largest city in the country is basically a shopping center that just happens to be hub for the energy industries (still mostly oil) with one of the world's largest, most sophisticated medical centers. She has so much else going for her, though, but that doesn't get promoted enough. There is a burgeoning arts scene here, terrific colleges and universities, a world class opera, symphony and theater.
She also has a wonderful can-do attitude and I guarantee you can become anything you want to be here. So why don't I like it here? The gripes I mentioned above reflect a diffuse, unfocused and fractious municipal governance. It's great that there are elements of an informed citizenry, but I don't see any real leadership from the elected leaders. I'm also not entirely sure that the general run of Houstonian cares that much. There isn't exactly a huge voter turn-out and the media is for the most part, lackluster.
I just feel much more at home in the Boston area which has its own set of issues, but I understand them better and can engage and participate more fully in those communities and processes.
How long will I stay in the metro Boston area? I don't know. I will stay as long as I'm needed, as long as I have something to contribute or....until I have enough saved up to return to India. I keep thinking I'll be back in the subcontinent next year, but I really don't know, do I?
From here over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be working on two other blogs. I'm not quite done with this one. But with "The Algebra of Rebirth" under way, I need to apply more energy on that one. It's also more demanding in terms of focus and thrust. It also will have a set amount of posts and once the major posts are done, I'll promote it more widely for discussion. The second blog is going to be more visually intensive, I think. I haven't planned it out much right now, but I think it will be more of a website than anything else.
And this one? I'll still post on occasion. This is, when all is said and done, mostly a travel record. And I don't see myself not traveling.
I'd like to dedicate this final, for now, point of departure to Kelly, Dolma's boon companion over the past seven years. I called him Wonder Dog, but more accurately and comprehensively, as anyone who has bonded with an animal of any caliber, I think of him as another exceptional being.