First time travels, you often make mistakes; you sometimes learn of better or other ways you could have done something differently; and you always experience so much.
We left Israel early yesterday morning, flying first to London and then to Bangalore, India. The trip to the London was fine, even quite enjoyable. The trip to India was an experience on so many levels, as was the first few hours here.
First, the flight. The planes on which we flew had personal viewing stations for each seat. I'm not that much into movies and news that is recorded and watched over and over again doesn't appeal to me. What did appeal to me - such that while all around me people were watching movies - I was watching this one screen...of where the plane was flying at that moment, where it had been, where it would be. The time of day from where we left; the time of day at our destination. How much time was left to the flight, the wind speed and temperature outside at that moment, and our altitude.
The trip from London to India took an interesting path and at each new country crossed, I had to deal with my own expectations and feelings.
As we left London, I snapped some pictures. From there on, as they day turned to night, I simply felt. We crossed the English channel into France...France where growing anti-Semitism is making life very difficult for its Jewish community.
Germany where I looked and felt a wealth of things. I can be as hypocritical as the next person - where I found small villages quaint in England, in Germany I found it a sign of coldness, of standing separate. Yeah, I know, but I was tired...
I was also looking for concentration camps...another silly thing because first - most of the concentration camps were built outside Germany, second, would I even be able to identify one from such a huge distance and altitude - absurd...but it's what I did.
We crossed Austria...they never liked us much there either.
And Budapest...where my mother-in-law visited and mentioned "when we were in Budapest...." - not really good memories there either. It was either before or after the war...before they lost so many and she became an orphan, or after, where she was a devastated woman struggling with what remained of her cousins, to put their lives back together. Missing ere the generations - parents, uncles and aunts, grandparents, and younger siblings.
And then it got interesting.
We crossed out of Europe into Turkey. Turkey? Wow, they hate us there and here I am flying over them...where in Europe there were villages - small, large, huge cities, in Turkey, other than in the far distance where Istanbul sparkled, it seemed it was every person for themselves, or perhaps every family...
And then we crossed in some area between Iraq and Iran and I thought, if the pilot had to land the plane, I'd refuse to get off it. While we were flying there - something strange. I looked out and then down and there was a plane directly below us - for a while mirroring our movement across the sky. I've never seen or heard of this being allowed...slowly, the lower plane pulled ahead of us and I was glad to watch it go.
We passed next to Saudi Arabia and over what I think was either Bahrain or Yemen...no way of telling on the small map...
Finally, we flew into India. It was a relief to be away from flying over the Arab countries; a relief to come to a place that seems so friendly.
In the airport, we were fingerprinted and photographed as part of the immigration process and then, as we collected our luggage, we saw armed soldiers patrolling.
So far from Israel and yet so clear, it isn't only Israel that lives with the reality of violence and terror. And it isn't only Israel struggling to make their land beautiful...Bangalore is huge. There are as many people in Bangalore as in all of Israel.
India is very different from Israel and yet in the few short hours I have been here, what I have learned is that across land and sea, we have much in common.