This long overdue post has been residing in my head in bits and pieces for the last 3 weeks – For the three people who are still reading my blog – I apologize for the delay. 🙂 You will hear about what a whirlwind my month of April has been but for now let me take you through how March 2014 went.
Where I went
Earlier in March, I left home to go home. That is, I left Chicago to go back to Bangalore, India. Every trip back to the city of my youth brings about some intense feelings in me. I often joke to my friends that the trip usually begins with euphoria, slides into a lukewarm happiness and then goes into a phase of intense longing to return to my adopted home in Chicago. This time was no different. The month began with me being very homesick but ended with me finding my “sense of home” in my parents home once again.
The city of Bangalore, where I grew up, is India’s original IT hub and well known for its pub culture but it also bears a tag of the “Garden City” of India. (Although I think that tag is now highly questionable). Once they became “empty nesters”, my parents decided to move far away from the city to an apartment complex in the outskirts of Bangalore. Being away from the city means the ability to enjoy fresh air and plenty of green, shady trees. This time, I got to see these trees in all their springtime glory and it was truly a treat to be taken back to the “Garden City” I once knew and loved.
I am the sort of person who needs a sufficient amount of quiet to be able to focus and get things done – something that has always eluded me at home. It’s a constant stream of sights, sounds and smells here – The pressure cooker hissing away (Indians love their pressure cookers), the ceiling fan working overtime, the children outside throwing a tantrum to get into their school buses, temple bells, smell of incense and fresh sandalwood that my father grinds for his daily prayers and the doorbell that plays a different Bollywood tune every time its pressed. (I long to smash this bell into smithereens on most days)
After almost two months of being back, I find that there are pockets of quiet in this chaos where I find unusual inspiration, gratitude and peace. These quiet moments are truly special and something I sink into and relish fully because before you know it the doorbell will play an annoying tune and snap you out of it.
In the company of loved ones
Life in India can never be in isolation. In a single day you meet a minimum of 5-10 people who are likely to have a conversation with you. I must have met close to 30-40 friends and relatives during my first month back home. The person who I was most excited to spend some quality time with was my maternal grandmother who we grandchildren address as “Paati” in Tamil. Paati had a tough life raising her seven children after the death of her husband when she was just 27 – but you will never see an inkling of this in her mannerisms or attitude. Always keeping busy helping with some housework or attending to her prayers in her 80s and ever so disciplined. This was the first time I watched my grandmother up and close as an adult and I hope I turn out to be some version of her when I am older. She embodies the concept of “aging gracefully”.
I am also glad to be spending more quality time with the cutest dog on earth – Cliffy. Cliffy was the last birthday gift for my cousin Akash from his parents before he left us in a tragic accident a day before he was to turn 14. Akash was the nicest kid you could ever meet and his passing left a huge gaping void in the lives of people who loved him dearly. Spending time with Cliffy connects me to my little brother in heaven – I love his beautiful big eyes, how he loves to be cuddled and how he stands up on his hind legs when he wants something.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, a big part of my trip back home was meant to be to improve my parent’s home. I’m part of the crazy breed of people who enjoy to de-clutter and organize spaces so I dove into my assignment headfirst. So far I have given away at least seven huge bags of things we no longer needed and huge stacks of books – giving away or throwing away things is something my parents have trouble with so they are very happy to let me do the deed for them! I am now redesigning our kitchen for minimum bending and ease of access – This is the sort of stuff that I know I am good at and it gives me great joy to be able to exercise these skills to make my parents’ life easier.
What I Read
Along with a lot of comfort eating, (unlike typical comfort food, the food cooked at my house is rich in nutrition and composed of lentils, rice, yoghurt and a minimum of 3-4 types of veggies) I indulged in some comfort reading. What better comfort reading than the Harry Potter series. I completed my re-reading of the three books in exactly the same setting as the first time I read these books – in my parents home. I love the complicated plots and the fantasy fiction genre but what I truly appreciate about the entire series are how the gray areas of human emotion are addressed. If I ever get around to having children, I know that I will read these books with them. 🙂
March 2014 took me back to the time I lived in my parent’s home. It has been close to six years since I left the nest but I know I always have a home here.