Journeys they say, end in lovers’ meetings, but journeys these days end before the immigration official in a nerve-wracking interview before we are allowed to enter a country. We have got so used to this that even after returning to India, standing before the immigration official causes a few flutters before we realize we are home, and suddenly confidence courses through our veins and we stand a little more jauntily where we had stood as supplicants.
So we went on a trip – a shorter one this time – and before we knew it, we were back in India. Our absence had been noticed and was commented upon. Naw, not mine. I am the invisible partner, R. being more high-profile. Nobody even noticed I had been away.
S. says I have become quite the world traveler. Maybe so, because I seemed to be quite blasé about the journey itself. I no longer worry about how to manage the luggage or about the airport routine nor do I get excited about traveling halfway across the earth. Foreign faces do not make me nervous and I can walk into any place without feeling intimidated. I only worry about giving satisfactory answers to the immigration official.
It was cold, colder than I had expected but we did not let it deter us from taking the long walks that can be almost impossible to accomplish in our own backyard, so to speak. Have you ever tried walking down LBS Road? Which goes to show that the Nariman Point residents and the suburban Mumbaikars were not created equal. Over there, halfway across the world, we donned our jackets and shoes, stuck our caps on our heads, and set off on 6 km walks in a different direction, each day, wherever our moods led us. One day it was towards the lakeside, another day it was to the more hallowed academic settings of the university. No matter how far we walked, we were never tired or bored, but were energised rather, by the cold wind and the nearly empty roads, strangers in foreign climes.
Being with S. for an extended period was the reason for our visit and, like all Indian mothers, I enjoyed cooking all the favorite dishes of my youngest child, though putting together the ingredients was not easy! It required some amount of “jugaad” but where there is willpower, a way can always be found. During our stay, I made more kesari, kheer and potato curry than I normally make. In short, a lot of cooking took place in that pristine kitchen. S. must have been amazed at the utility bill that month!
We ate more Mexican food and even Thai food and burgers than we have ever eaten. We saw more movies and shows both at home and in the theatre, incuding plays, which were a new experience for us. S. kept checking to be sure that neither of us was nodding off, guilty as we were occasionally. But the cold and the unfamiliar accents and mumbled dialogues were very soporific, in our defence. One play kept us deeply engrossed while another, a Shakespearian drama, was rather too avante garde for our humble tastes and I cannot pretend I liked it. Standup comedy was more to my plebian tastes though R. was shocked by the extreme vulgarity in some of them. Well, anything goes, nowadays, and it would be politically incorrect to disapprove of something enjoyed by so many.
Whoosh, and we were back home. It is back to the mall and to Hindi cinema, but when we are tucking into our chole bhature at the Food Court, it is hard not to think of S. – he would like it.