leaving india

Four times I’ve left India. Two of those departures were by sea. First, I chugged across the Palk Strait from Rameswaram to Mannar Island. I’ve included this slow journey in a manuscript that has a section set in Sri Lanka. 

The second sea exit was from Mumbai over the calm Arabian Sea to Mombasa. The week-long voyage cost $100 back then — $10 extra if I’d opted for western food. I would have paid $10 more for the delicious vegetarian curries I was served every day.

I slept in something like a women’s dorm and loafed on deck at night where the clear sky was on star overload. There was a movie every night but I wasn’t into Bollywood so spent the trip socializing with the few European travellers.

When we arrived in Mombasa, an African came aboard. “Jumbo,” he’d said to another passenger who repeated the Swahili word back to him not knowing what it meant until later.

That cruise was far from luxurious, but was the most relaxing trip I’ve ever taken. My other two exits were by air, so I don’t remember a single detail.

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