one of the things about traveling and being away from home is a suspension of reality, or at least a suspension of engagement with one's "real" life. Tarn blogged about this in relation to not-blogging while she was in California visiting family and hanging out with children. I find that despite the fact I actually read the newspaper more while in India (because it's provided free at these hotels we're staying in), I am basically utterly out of the loop when I come back. It's like I can't absorb things because I'm overloaded with other stimuli and so I can't figure out why I should care about current events.
and travel makes you reassess things. I'm moving on from Delhi today to go to Baroda to give a talk. This will be an interesting experience, working with academics in India and exploring how the rhythm of dialogue and the angle of inquiry differs from my own experience in the academy. but what I'd really like to do is go home now. this is the culmination of several recurring events in my life. when I was away for dissertation research I spent a month in London at the British Library and then went on for several months in India and Bangladesh. Leaving London was unbelievably difficult, because I was leaving but not to go home. I'm feeling the same thing here. Delhi has been great, and it was very fun showing Ruth around and getting the colonial tour of Delhi yesterday with our host and a Lonely Planet writer (impressive, no?) but in a way this next few days is the last phase of my trip, where I'm not showing anybody around, where it's supposedly about my scholarship and my work rather than revealing India to new comers.
and I realized about a week ago that I have no idea what that "scholarship" and "work" thing might be in the future. that is, I'm at the end of one project, the book on 20th c. India, and thus, by the rules of the academic universe, I need to get going on my next project. by the rules of Indian art history, that must be a book, it must be based on a site in India, and it must entail multiple months researching in India, ideally a year. But I just don't have the energy or the desire for that right now. I have a few ideas floating around that I could work very hard to make concrete, but I'm really not that excited about any of them to do that.
So returning "home" involves this idea of moving on as well. I'm moving on from Delhi physically to another location in India, much as I'm (perhaps) moving on from this book project to another project. But what I really want to do in both cases is to go home. to return to someplace that anchors me, that's not new, that's a repetition. when was the last time I had that place? who knows. maybe I need to go home and work on making that space concrete rather than creating some new scholarly object to chase after. hm.