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.


Devaki said...

Glad to hear you had a great trip! And very glad you made the time to come visit us - it was fun and reminded us of old times - especially the lively conversation. :) Come back soon!

stringOfPearls said...

Thanks Devaki for having us over.

Shuba said...

Ahh...I can smell India. Sounds like the trip was just what you needed. Home has a way of doing that. Makes me want to book my tickets!

Here is lots more of such trips!! :)


stringOfPearls said...

Thank you Shubha. Yes it was just what I needed. I have made many resolutions to try and visit far more frequently. I have been careless almost about my time in India.

balai said...

Ah, now you make me ache for that elusive trip back home. Been 4 years now :( Thanks for bringing back that "Mann vasanai". A wonderful post. Ok, this is one post where I am happy that you didn't post pics of street food. That would have left us all drooling and miserable :)
You are one of the few I know who seem to have been able to meet up with your friends and also don't seem to be bothered by the "big changes" happening back home. Most folks complain that their friends back home hardly have time to call or visit you; and that its a big culture shock to see the way the big cities in India are growing, and the spending power bla bla. BUt based on my own experience, largely India remains untouched, if you care to move out of those fancy malls and cities. And I think that's what pulls us back and of course those interesting conversations with strangers on the street ( small talk would be a insulting term to call that).

stringOfPearls said...

@balai- I did not have as much luck meeting friends as I would like, but it was more my plans than anything else.
India itself was fabulous. I felt instantly at home. I think I would have been rather shattered if I had started to feel uncomfortable in my own country.