Ramblings From Home Part I

Ramblings from Home Part I

3 planes, 2 times zones, 10000 kms and 2 days later, a tiny 50 seater aircraft deposits me at the quaint airport in my hometown. I know I am home the instant I step off the plane on to the paved tarmac…the earth is red- a deep, nurturing, nourishing, welcoming warm red.
The abundance of mango, jackfruit and coconut trees tells me I am home, tells me that I am welcome and tells me that home is perhaps the only place where you don’t need to re-connect. You simply step back into the rhythm of things and pick up from where you left off, like you were always there and like you are never going away again.

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There is a knock at the door one rainy night when the clouds are chasing each other across the warm October sky. Thunder rumbles in the distance, somewhere a streak of lightening brightens up the glass panes momentarily. The knock is furtive, almost as if the caller does not want to interrupt the placid evening that lies unfurled within the confines of the room. I open the door to find a very apologetic Bhabhie on the doorstep. We have been neighbours for as long as we remember and we have seen the gradual metamorphosis of the little road from the time, there were only two houses on the street to today, when I can actually stand in the front garden, and count the number of strangers pass by.

The ageing process hasn’t spared Bhabhie either, her hair is thinning, she wears glasses and the row of glass bangles on her wrists doesn’t seem all that young anymore. Her eyes though are still the same, soft, kajal lined and like they have always been on occasions of reunions or partings, overflowing to the brim. We don’t need to talk, she looks at me saying precious little but the tears that are now threatening to spill over say it all: funny how a warm welcome has very little to do with words and actions.

I usher her in and she alternately fusses over me and alternately wipes her eyes. There is something comforting about being with someone who has seen you since you were knee high and we go through the whole gamut of school days, Uni days and everything in between and everything after, like we do everytime I am home. For a few moments I envy her for being able to be attached to someone in such an unfettered and giving way. Being able to stand up to your own tears, I often think, is way harder than standing up to anyone else’s tears.

And on that warm October evening with the thunder rumbling in the distance,as Bhabie joins our family at the dining table and joins in the laughter and the merriment, I feel thankful for the simple, steady presence that some people can have in your life and admire her ability to love someone throughout their absence as well as their presence. After a while, her laughter rings above the thunder rumbling in the distance.

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Its something that nearly classifies as the highlight of my trip, no trip home can be complete without a visit to Mama’s the friendly eatery down the road. Mama’s is spartan eating at its best, the walls are painted with bright blue oil paint, a hand written menu card is tacked onto the wall with the help of cellotape and if you raise your heels a tiny bit and look beyond the small shelf that serves as the area to place your orders, you can see mounds of chopped onion, coriander and loaves of bread all stacked neatly next to huge jars of “sev” and “papdi”.

For as long as I remember, mamaa’s was the place we went to when we had cousins visiting us during summer, mamaa’s was where we stopped for steaming got pav bhaji during the temperamental rain storms that always seemed to visit my town and mamaa’s was where you met to ruminate over bad grades, missed friends and the crush of the season. It was a strangely soothing environment; the sharp smell of the raw onions, the clang of the tiny steel plates, the sizzle of pav bhaji on the huge griddle, tea in white cups cheekily spilling on to the chipped saucers, the extra spicy vada pav and the endless talks, stifled giggles, and impromptu singing sessions cleansed and nourished your soul like you wouldn’t believe. It thrills me that nothing has changed, you still have to wait till you can squeeze in next to strangers, the menu is still handwritten, and yes Mamaa still makes vada pav that has to be eaten to be believed.

We are lucky because we get a table all to ourselves and as I go through the menu with the delight of a kid in a candy store, mamaa sees us and walks over. He enquires after us as he always does. “Have a nice long holiday this time, don’t rush back”, he adds. He has been saying this for as long as I remember, every holiday back home has been punctuated with this advice and I grin back. “The usual?” he asks and as I nod, he tells the waiter to get us some panipuri (without the raw onion offcourse). There is something to be said for a place where your likes and dislikes are remembered…I lean back and soak in the ambience. The first plateful makes me feel good about most things in life, by the time I have finished the second plateful I am at peace with most of the world and by the time plate number 3 is done, I am certain that I have stumbled upon the recipe for nirvana…

Amidst the din with the sweet, tangy, sharp taste exploding in my mouth, I know that a memory has been created and as I step out into the warm evening, it gladdens me that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

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It is not just people, homes age too. Perhaps you need to leave home to fully understand that nothing is spared from the ageing process. Perhaps the way you see things change, but somewhere on an hitherto untarnished wall, you now see a patch of peeling paint, somewhere on a well walked garden path, you notice that the rain doesn’t gush along as before but rather now stops to make a little puddle and suddenly, fleetingly you realize that time has been marching on to its own beat. There are new faces around the neighbourhood just as they are fewer older faces…sometimes this symbiosis between time and mortality numbs you, most of the other times, you are really too busy accepting it.

And just as you realize this, just as you struggle to learn this lesson, you see new shoots, new blossoms and shiny glistening leaves washed by the last downpour…and then suddenly it all makes sense, beneath the magic of these endless cycles of time is hidden a clockwork of cycles and patterns that include everyone in their iterations. Some lessons take a minute to learn and a lifetime to accept….

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To be continued…..

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  1. Trackback: Linked to a Tag.. « The Heart Monologues

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