Thirteen years ago, on my 35th birthday, after a lifetime of pining, I landed in India for the first time. One of my closest friends, a famous Israeli TV director and devout Osho follower, met me at the Mumbai airport and took me to Pune, where we rested awhile before going down to the famous German Bakery. I was blown away by the noise and intensity of the city, as people from abroad always are, and it was calming to be among people like myself (videshis) those first few days. The German Bakery was always full of lively people talking of universal love and self-knowledge, preaching shanti—a bit too trippy for me! I wandered on to the Himalayas.
I should have, could have, come to India earlier than I did. The inner call had been incessant for years, but I had worried, banally, about getting ill. When people at parties would talk about their India, I would have to leave the room, the envy too hard to bear. I knew I would make India my home—that I indeed was home the moment I walked off the airplane and breathed the Mumbai air. It smelled familiar and profoundly safe; I felt myself exhaling, relaxing, ready for peace.