I still remember the day I landed at the Minneapolis airport three years ago and I went into a time machine where I felt unfamiliar and out-of-place but not uncomfortable or unwelcome.

The polite cab driver’s “you bet” in reply to my “thank you” kept me wondering whether I was invited to join him in a casino or not.

I was shell-shocked after learning that in a small town with a population of 9,000, people don’t even bother to lock their front doors in Minneapolis.

“Robbery? Burglary? That happens in big cities – not here in the Midwest – this is a very safe and peaceful place,” was my landlord’s loyal reassurance.

I went from one of biggest cities in India to Minneapolis and my amazement was quite entertaining to others!

The “feeling safe” concept gradually got to me, too.

I stopped panicking even after seeing our main apartment door unlocked.

I never had a second thought about taking a walk alone after midnight.

I even started greeting and smiling at strangers without any hesitation.

I began to enjoy the chilling -20 below zero temperatures without a hitch.

I am now back in India on my first visit after three years away and my Midwestern mindset has been shattered back to reality in the blink of an Indian third eye.

A couple of lessons re-learned:

  1. It is easier to handle -20 below zero than 105F with 75% humidity.
  2. Do not even bother to look at strangers and forget about smiling!

I forgot to come back to the reality of big city Indian blues ASAP and I am the less for it.

I lost my handbag along with my camera, zip drive, purse and other things.

I was fortunate enough not to lose my passport.

Everything was stolen from my car. Well, I only blame myself as I was a little late to wake up from my Midwestern reverie.

I spent the first 30 years of my life in the same Indian city without even losing a safety pin — but three years spent in the Midwest transformed me into a small-town girl from Minneapolis and I became completely oblivious to my surroundings when I left the protection of my adopted hometown.

My plan was to take a one semester break in India to tend to a pressing family matter when I then came to know upon arrival that my mother was diagnosed with a surgical problem which now stretches my staying here in India to a year. I am glad that I am back when my parents need me, though I had no clue about the direness of it before reaching here. I am glad to reconnect with my old friends and I am grateful for their help at this point of my life.

I know the pendulum will swing and I will make it!