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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Thoughts On a Winter Day

It is a sunny winter day in New Jersey almost like the days in New Delhi. When the glow of the sunshine belies how cold it is. The similarity ends there. What strikes me is the sensory deprivation I am experiencing. After the crowds, the opinions, the busy streets - the organized lives of my peers here seems too tame. Like a controlled space where life is being allowed to enter in small controlled bursts.

When I landed in the United States 7 years ago, it was a bit of lark. I wanted to study and see a new place. It was about new experiences and opening my horizons. I liked what I saw. I felt free, independent and motivated. 7 years later I feel a little trapped, in a rut and a lot less inspired. On the other hand a trip to India has left me feeling more positive and motivated than I have in some time.

If I did not know better, I would think I am using major life events as stimuli to keep the drama in my life going. If I'd only listen to myself when I say that source of inspiration must come from within ;).

Monday, 30 January 2012

A Trip Back Home

I am back from a 4 week long trip. The trip which included visits to Mumbai, Rajasthan, New Delhi and Singapore was among the most fun I have had in some time. This, despite the fact that my husband and I have a decent vacation budget. Even as you find us reaching for the recesses of bottom shelf for the cheapest in department stores, vacations and bars are where we like to see our monies going waste. So that, at the end of it all, we have nothing but a sun tan and a hangover to call our own (hmm maybe we need to revisit our fiscal strategy).

This trip to India was my first in three years and I was a more than a little apprehensive about the whole thing. Back home is, unfortunately, not just a physical space but also a space in time. And, I did not want to go back to India and find myself unhappy or bored. I was worried that I would forever taint the memories of my childhood and youth. I was afraid the place would have changed too much, the my relatives would no longer feel a bond with me, the my friends would have no time for me, that I would be an outsider in my own country.

As it turns out, India had no time to notice that I had changed. Apart from me, nobody else seemed to notice that I was gone for three years. I had the most fabulous time. The streets, the people, the food. I loved how when my husband and I pulled to the side of a street and asked for directions, people would argue among themselves before telling us the "besht way" to a place. At one point we found ourselves stuck in our car in an extremely narrow road that was probably two wheeler only. Stuck in the front of a traffic jam with everybody behind us honking away, the pedestrians actually smiled and pulled the parked bikes on the side of the road out of the way and then guided us out of the street. I have not felt more at home in a very long time.

I also spent quality time visiting some friends and relatives, chatting up my cousins and annoying my ma by leaving the wet towel on the bed. Just like old times.

And the food. Oh the food!!. The husband and I ignored all warnings and spent all our time there eating street food for almost every meal (that we could manage over the constant protests of his parents and my mother). And with such food available constantly and so cheaply, I am surprised that everybody there does not weigh a 100 kg. The highlights were - vada pav in Bombay, samosa and kesar kulfi in Rajasthan, tikki and golgappa in Delhi.

In the last week of my trip away, I spent a few days in Singapore visiting with my brother. Singapore is a beautiful, friendly city that I really enjoyed visiting. My brother and I also spent some time catching up. Our bonding, apart from chatter over large drinks served in marmalade jars ( courtesy very nice bar called Nueva Cuba with live music in Clarke Quay) , consisted of shared stories about the disturbingly similar aches and pains that we had both noticed - clearly a result of the defective genes that our parents had managed to pass on to us in a predictably consistent fashion. I am a couple of years older than my brother and while I seemed to have missed out on the genes that makes my brother a successful, socially well adjusted, confident young man I do seem to share those that resulted in flat feet and flawed skin. My brother seemed to view my physical ailments as his future. Somehow, I found it in my heart to push aside the obvious insult in that and warned him gravely about how his body was about to let him down. Being an older sister is a tough job but someone has to do it :).

I came back yesterday and miss India ,my mother and tikki quite badly. I also feel a new energy and a certain lightness that I have not felt in a long time. The husband and I are going to have to start shopping in the dollar store - so we can make room in our budget for more trips to India and cocktails served in jars.