Tag Archives: love

Halve the Dozen

7 Dec

Me: I look like a potato.

The Boy: I look like a celery stick.

Me: Aww! Together, we make ….. a rather strange salad.

And, just like that, we turn six today. And your erstwhile blogger of dark thoughts is an annoying globule of mush. Blech.

 

Maps of Heart & Time

8 Nov

She rings the doorbell and skips in through the open door, looking at me for a reaction. I smile and tell her I rang a few unnecessary doorbells in my early years. She processes this information, taking in the tall lady with an unfamiliar accent, who cleans alongside her mother because she’s just anal like that.

I take the Swiss chalet from its perch on the bar, gently wind the old key, and open the roof. Sweet, lilting notes fill the air and her green eyes, sun-streaked hair tumbling into them, widen with delight. The smile extends to her mouth and she holds my gaze as I gently shut the roof. And then, because just once is never enough, I open it again and let the music waft between us.

When she picked this little box of joy somewhere in the Alps 64 years ago, Nana couldn’t have known that someday, a 4-year-old Mexican-American girl would share its delights with her granddaughter, who clings to this memory of her beloved spirit’s life.

November 8, 1921. Just the date makes my heart glad.

Happy birthday. Thank you for knowing how to love me.

Love in the Age of Debussy

31 Oct

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” ~Anaïs Nin

And that, I suspect, is what I am doing today. Among the many posts I have shared about the city of my heart, I have failed to mention a key experience: music by the warm, glittering bay.

I don’t quite remember when I first stepped into the NCPA. Perhaps I was 6. Or younger. But my earliest memories include watching the Peanuts at the Tata Theatre and wearing a pleated plaid dress to watch a comedy at the Experimental, (for which the actors borrowed my water bottle as a prop). Music by the classical masters formed a backdrop to my life, and for this gift, I cannot give enough thanks.

The morning dress-up ritual for school was punctuated by the gentle strains of Strauss’ Blue Danube (keeps tension at bay, Daddy used to say) and I may have developed a Pavlovian response to Sunday dhandar, fried fish, and Mozart. Our neighbor two floors down was a piano teacher, whose fingers would fly across the ivories to amuse herself on weekends, and the strains of her layered, rich playing were heard throughout the building. Time trundled on as it is wont to. My teenage years brought on other, varied musical interests, and our piano teacher-neighbor passed away. But the enduring legacy of my upbringing was an emotional connection to the NCPA.

It was never just about the music. There were rituals, and unspoken codes, and if you were lucky (?) enough to be born and bred into them, then you’d pick them up effortlessly, sailing through the crimson-carpeted hallways with your pearls and grandma’s handbag, knowing not to clap between movements, and acknowledging other regulars with air kisses and tilts of the head. If you were a member, you received the month’s program in the mail, and knew precisely what pieces you’d be hearing that evening. You would know the insiders from the one-offs, who, clad in rani pink or bright orange, would shuffle unsurely toward the bar and food area, not knowing that the cold coffee and chicken sandwiches were the best things on the menu. Or that the delightful Stop Gaps, headed by good old Alfie, would hand out Christmas mementos after every concert of the Festival of Festival Music. And Karla Singh, god bless her, would be her funny, naughty emcee self and have us chuckling year after year.

There is a definitive confidence that comes from knowing your space. From viewing it from the inside out and breathing through the familiar placenta, rather than witnessing from extraneous layers. I’ve watched myself at concerts at London’s Barbican Centre and San Francisco’s Davies Hall. I’ve noticed how my posture, although tall, is just that slightest bit unsure. The music is exquisite. The experience, just as wonderful. But the space and the power that comes from knowing it intimately isn’t mine. At the Jamshed Bhabha or the Tata, I am in my element. I know exactly how many beads of perspiration will break out on my face in the dash from the car to its chandeliered entrance hallway. My shoulders are thrown back, a stole wrapped casually around them, the familiar faces popping up almost right away. That there, is my school English teacher. Over this way, three of my neighbors. Hi there, Cousin, new date? The low buzz and laughter, the making our way over to those familiar crimson seats amid exclamations of delight, hugs and hellos, the gentle bell peals and dimming of lights to indicate we should settle down, and then finally, the collective hush as the conductor strides onto the stage.

The music. The delicate, the thundering, the fragrant, the vicious, the gloom-and-doom, and infinitely worthy of elation, it scoops you up in scented lavender tissue, escorting you through mid-air to plunge you into an expansive pool of bubbling delight. You gasp, the heady rush leaving a buzz in your brain. Your feet are singing. Your fingers move of their own accord. Your liver is yodeling in high Cs. And you are enveloped in the purest delight this universe has to proffer.
You know your cues. And they, you. In these hallways of insiders, being of them matters, even if only just to themselves. There will always be the odd Bollywood superstar who will show up at (only) a big name concert, ruining the experience for the rest of us with traffic jams, security and paparazzi. And this is probably the only place in the world they will be pretty much left alone. For the star of the evening is the melody, and the people who make it flow.

In my misspent youth, I could calculate the seriousness of my relationships by the number of NCPA dates I’d had with the guy. Small wonder then, that I’m married to the one who topped the list. This piece of earth at the tail end of Bombay’s financial district, was, in our days of courtship, a world unto ourselves, a space so private amidst the public, that we still talk about it like we’re there. We still follow each season of the SOI, if only through the emails we receive. We still mention it when Zubin Mehta or Marat Bisangaliev are “in town”. And we wonder what Zane Dalal will be conducting at the grand finale. Plays are eagerly scanned for familiar names, half my college being the Bombay theatre scene today, and I am kept abreast of film festivals and gallery exhibits by a cousin who is a regular.

As the holiday season approaches, we’re already wistfully thinking about what we’ll be missing. Where we now live is undeniably glorious. But every so often, all one needs is one’s own comfortable home, with its breath of recycled air. And no matter where I park my boots, my beloved NCPA and I, we’re an item for life.

Love All: A Tennis Tale

5 Jul

This is a little story. Not a giant news headline that will shatter any records. In a world buzzing with soundbites, it will be a mere unnoticed blip, but it is a story of adoration. Of respect and national pride. A story of people I have never met, but who succeeded in warming my heart with their affection and hope. And a story is nothing if it doesn’t give us that one elusive reason to believe. For that reason alone, this is a tale that needs to be shared. Spread its small sweetness to your friends.

*And if you haven’t left a comment on the 5th birthday post yet, it’s not too late!!! Go do it now. 1 comment = $1.*

~~~

Remember my uncle who lives in England? He is a doctor. Such an excellent physician is he, that he serves as the official doctor on call at Lord’s (yes, the cricket mecca) and Wimbledon. He was on a cruise near Norway last month, when word got out on the ship about his tennis affiliation and he received a rather interesting request. A few stewards and bartenders approached him hesitantly, clutching an envelope.

“What is it,” Uncle M asked, when one of the group mustered the nerve to offer him the missive.

“It’s a letter for our hero,” they said simply, “If you see him at Wimbledon, will you give it to him from us?”

That’s when Uncle M realized that all the men standing hopefully before him were Serbian. Their hero: countryman Novak Djokovic.

“Sure, I’ll give it to him,” smiled Uncle M, “But I can’t guarantee he’ll read it!”

Relief and smiles broke out among the band of men, who respectfully pressed my uncle to at least pass it on if he got a chance. They chattered excitedly among themselves, thrilled that their words of affection and praise had found a messenger.

Then, they waited.

“Anything else?” Uncle M smiled, tickled and moved.

Nobody bothered with a reply. Within seconds, mayhem had broken loose and every Serbian worker on board the ship had materialized on the deck to be part of a group picture. Men in crisp white uniforms and beaming smiles arranged themselves in rows amidst a hubbub, a camera was produced, and pride, hope and adoration clicked themselves into the photograph when that shutter did its job. Hurriedly, it was handed to my uncle and it was safely tucked away in his luggage along with the letter when he disembarked in England.

My uncle now has the task of delivering the wishes and hopes of Djokovic’s countrymen. It is anybody’s guess whether the Serb will rise to victory in Sunday’s final, but I get the distinct feeling that regardless of the outcome, something beautiful has already been won. And love, ironically derived from the French l’eouf (meaning egg), has a lot to do with it.

Turning Five + A Birthday Giveaway

1 Jul

Five eventful years ago, Little Blogette (a moniker so creative and original, it blew rings of neon smoke from the ears of all who heard it) made her debut with this post. As is wont to with a newborn, plenty of well-wishers came to oooh and awww and tinkle silver-and-pink rattles by her cribside. As is also wont to, by the time you’re done attending the 5th birthday party of a child whose cutest years are past her, you stagger out, topped up with delicious but predictable cake and a lame return present that looks suspiciously recycled.

So you’re off the hook with all the cutesy things fond parents expect to hear about their snot-faced little wide-eyed monster. But wait! I’m not quite done. If I have reaped the joys of connecting with so many of you over the years, if only through the limited interaction of a comment, a friendly email, or “Hi, I’m a lurker, okay bye!” kind of message, it’s time for me to pay it forward.

As a small gesture of gratitude for the sustenance of this blog and to show my appreciation to those of you who come back, year after year, I will be donating $50 to a non-profit organization of my choice, one whose work and cause I believe in and support. But HERE’S WHERE YOU COME IN:

For every comment received on this post, from the time it is published until midnight on July 15th, I will add $1 to the base amount on your behalf. So feel free to say hello, tell me you’re a lurker in your tiniest font and then vanish forever, share your favorite birthday memory, or….only if you want now, no pressure….wish this blog a happy, meaningful birthday. Multiple comments from the same IP address will not be approved, and yes, I’m so magical, I can tell. 😛 Comments are moderated, so don’t be concerned if you don’t see yours right away.

What do you get out of it other than warm fuzzies? I’m hoping it’s a chance to band together to offer the world a little humble something. And something is more than nothing, even if only in the number of letters it carries.

So tell your friends and family, sign in as Rumpelstiltskin-does-the-Hula for all I care, but don’t be shy, send some dollars this way! There are some fab organizations out there who could do with a leg up. And I’ll be sure to share details of the donation with you.

Oh, and before you leave, have a slice of lime tart, specially baked to celebrate the occasion.  You know what this means, don’t you? The Happy Hausfrau will be along to share the recipe soon. 🙂 Bon appetit, my friends, thank you for reading Wisdom Wears Neon Pyjamas and get clicking on that comment button!

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Mere Paas Maa Hai (aur dimaag nahi)

12 May

Happy Hallmark-dictated-skyrocketing-sales-great-for-the-economy Day.

Because my Mother’s Day is October 27th, the day I celebrate the something elseness that is the lady who birthed me and taught me to be sensible, cautious, forward-thinking, hygienic, feminist, organized, articulate, logical, and unable to stand by and just watch life happen—in her own image.

If we want to celebrate a generic Mother’s Day, on the other hand, I would need to include a hell lot more people who nurtured and mothered me–an aunt with a soul connection, another who is my confession padre, my grandmothers, both biological and adopted, my best friend and rock, and an erstwhile boyfriend, who despite being a clueless 20-something himself, could teach every woman who’s ever pushed a human out of her a thing or two about unconditional love.

 

If our mothers are indeed so special, how come we bunch them up, assign them one universal day filled with hoopla, bells, and whistles, and move on before the overpriced flowers have wilted? Of course they’ll lap it up. Hell, after chronic sleep deprivation, poopy diapers that even they can’t claim smell like roses, and the sheer relentlessness of attending to needs for twenty plus years of the human life span, they’ll lap up far less pleasantness with a bring-it-on gratitude. But are we really being fair to them, with this tacky song and dance affair? Or is it easier to just swipe that credit card, fall in line, and wholeheartedly buy into a greeting card company’s idea of banging profits?

 

To the mother who taught me to think: I love you every day. But on October 27th, I will celebrate you. Because you’re MY mother, not just A mother. And because you’re smart enough to recognize the difference.

~~~

Edited to add: Here’s a mother of multiples, sharing her point of view:

http://vidyazworld.blogspot.com/2013/05/mothers-day-hype-or-humbug.html

7 Years of Blogging: An Incredible Journey

26 Jan

Frosty beginnings

It was a wintry Boston day. The kind where the sky is azure, and the cold bites into your marrow decisively. Strewn around me were the material possessions collected over 5 years of living in the country, waiting to be crammed into two mid-sized suitcases and flown home with their owner.

“What is a blog,” I had asked him, and wondered if I could write one. The concept of readership didn’t cross my mind. Bored with the task at hand, I lined up my precious babies and took a picture. “Shoes Blues”, I labeled the post, and whined about whether they would all fit into my luggage and new existence.

I shut the browser, and shortly afterward, my bags, and watched as Logan airport dropped away.  I thought leaving America would change my life. The seed I had planted on the internet smirked at my naiveté and bided its time.

~~~

Germination

January 26, 2006, started a chain of events that I did not have the foresight or imagination to envisage. My quiet entrance into the world of personal blogs was encouraged by exactly two readers, the love of whom I will always be grateful for. Unexpectedly, the circle grew. Warm responses, delightful banter, and amusing comments from complete strangers ensued. My Yahoo! 360 circle of friends expanded into a co-ed dorm, where we all hung out, displaying our words and quirks in a manner so genuine and honest, it was impossible not to be touched.

Those first years were the most prolific. I blogged for the sheer joy of sculpting sentences, creating fiction, and recording life’s quirks. Quite simply, because I could. Mostly flippant even when I wrote from the heart, I took neither my writing nor its platform seriously (and still refuse to do so with the former). As I navigated the last years of my 20s, my little corner on the WWW became a repository of angst-ridden poetry, nuggets of fiction, and first date howlers. And looking back, how my connections sustained me! Aunty G, Manju, Mina, The Mad Momma, Sabiha, Dezann, Suzy Tay, Lonely Prince, Naoman, Sa’ad,  Rajashree, Shail, Summer, Mariah,  Anamika, Pallavi, Rajni, Anindita, Twisted DNA, Revathi, Amrita—bloggers, readers, compatriots all, their emails, comments and calls flew in from all over the globe, making me laugh with the race to comment first (FTC!! we’d shout), partake of their intriguing worlds, and thank the powers that be for this new dimension.

~~~

Born-again OJ

And yet, I took a break. Rather, was forced to by technical difficulties, as the 360 platform creaked to a painful end. Without their familiar home, the words went on vacation. (Okay, as did I—but they went first!)

Turns out it was only a quick trip around the corner, because six weeks later, this post went up, and I set about making this new home cozy and inviting. The neighborhood was more upscale and the living space plusher, but it lacked the casual, popping-in-and-out-to-ask-for-sugar atmosphere. But then you all arrived. So many quietly read and departed, making no announcement of their existence. (It’s still not too late, you know!) But some others, they said hello, and to them I am thankful. And to the odd troll who trawls through my posts, you do wonders for my hit rate.

~~~

Wired

Personally, my blogging journey has seen me through a long-term relationship, its gut-wrenching, soul-sapping end, the hilarity of the dating dance of my later 20s, my first meeting with the man you all know as the Boy, along with our courtship, engagement, and wedding, and seven years later, I stand before you as someone this busybee from Bombay least expected to morph into: a contented married woman in suburban California.

This virtual platform—not a jot less real than flesh and blood—watched me move continents (twice), re-embrace my city, only to see it receding yet again from an airplane 2 years ago. Through jobs and businesses, and changes in career and pace, Wisdom Wears Neon Pyjamas stood patiently on hand, as I force-fed it, ignored it, and worst of all, was indifferent to it, while life led me on a merry dance, and I, with my sixteen left feet, bumbled along.

I found myself eating gouda toasties and chattering with my mouth full (sorry, Nana!) to someone I met 7 minutes ago. I found myself finally putting into words the feminist ideas I witnessed growing up. I found myself published elsewhere, thanks to this unique calling card. I found myself face-to-face with the people behind monikers and pseudonyms to brainstorm how we could help 26/11 victims. I found myself refusing money to shove paid links down your throats. I found myself walking into a stranger’s home to check on her after reading just one heartbreaking post, and her wedding present to me affirmed my faith in my actions. I found myself on the receiving end of genuine affection. I found myself cheering on a queer woman I had never met in her struggle for acceptance. Truth be told, there were simply no strangers anymore. Blogging made me reach out, look within, and wear my heart on my sleeve. It brought me dear friends, some admirers (!), and enhanced my life in surprising ways, but the best gift of all was that it brought me home to me.

~~~

Did it really happen?

Make no mistake: I still write for myself. Very rare are the days when I give a thought to responses before hitting ‘publish’. But now I see blogging as something more than strung words, and would be foolish not to acknowledge the connections it has enriched me with.

To honor this gift, I invited 7 fellow travelers, all key to my online trail at some point, to share their thoughts on what this platform—and our connection— means to them. Over the next week and a half, these guest posts will appear exactly as they were sent to me, so you can witness how this phenomenon affected us all. The writers are human beings who amaze me, whose generosity with time and affection gives me hope for the world, and whose dexterity with the written word is a humbling experience. These are women of strength, of opinions and integrity, true citizens of this planet, and each one has warmed my spirit with her unique charm. I thank them for the pleasure of their company, along with the many unnamed others along the way, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, dear reader.

~~~

Kisses on the wind

This post would be incomplete without a shout-out to my most regular commenters:

Aunty G: You’re one in several billion, and your limericks make my day (and everybody else’s!)

Dipali: Big hug! It gladdens my heart that you’re somewhere out there.

Alice: I’m happy you find wonder in my land. (Couldn’t resist! :mrgreen: )

Sukanya: Being sincere and generous in equal parts with your compliments is a truly special gift and you have it.

R: In your comments, I see my younger self, and it’s great to relate. 🙂

~~~

Forward

Like all paths, this too shall end someday. Maybe it will be this year, or some years hence.  Regardless, in a life littered with unknowns, where pain and poetry blend, I am thrilled—and fortunate—and (insert your own word, I’m too busy mopping the weepies) that I went on this incredible journey of a lifetime.

Group hug, NOW!

Five And Alive

7 Dec

“It’s nice knowing you,” he said, as always, simple and heartfelt.

And her smile spread slow and wide.

Turning down the lights, they climbed under the covers, sporting blobs of Vicks and night cream (respectively); the Boy and his Missus shook on it and kissed, and congratulated themselves on 5 years of good old-fashioned lovin’.

Cook Like You Mean It, Feed The World Your Love

5 Nov

While the Boy and I were dating, I cooked for him exactly once. Dumped a packet of readymade Parampara masala into a pressure cooker with some mutton, and dished it up with rice when he returned from a business trip. “Parsi women don’t cook,” I said in an off-hand way, and we moved on to other topics of conversation.

I wasn’t lying. I grew up in a home with family cooks since my great-grandfather’s time, where both Nana and Mum made the sourest of faces when said cook took a day off, and have cousins who engage a caterer to supply their meals on a daily basis.  And, worried that his beloved daughter would have to enter the kitchen, my grandfather sent along a cook with my mother after marriage. That’s right. Other people give their daughters furniture and jewelry. My mother brought along her very own cook. “Slaving in the kitchen,” I was informed by the women in my father’s family, “is not for us.”And so it stood, not questioned or even considered.

The first time I cooked a meal, I was 23 and fresh off the boat in America. Painstakingly referring to my mother’s handwritten recipe notebook, I curried eggplant for my flatmates. It didn’t taste bad. It just didn’t taste of anything at all. “This is shit,” laughed a new flatmate, as I struggled to keep my face composed. I shut the book firmly and put it back in the suitcase that had traveled across the oceans with me. It was the last time I referred to it.

I was clueless. I didn’t know how ingredients blended together, what spice played off what herb on the palate, and which vegetables took longer to cook. Breathing deeply and refusing to be disheartened, I tossed out all written rules and lunged at cooking with my gut. I got creative, I improvised. Rarely measured, and went with what felt right. In a month, my flatmates were marveling at my rapid improvement, and the woman who’d called my food shit was eating second helpings, along with her words. Some months later, I was hosting a lunch for 20 hungry students (who, agreed, will eat anything), whipping up batches of freshly fried fish for 4 non-stop hours, all by myself, and reveling in my newfound skill.

No deaths were reported that day, and from then on, there was no looking back. I fed myself and my friends many hearty meals in the years that I lived in America. When I moved back to Bombay, my kitchen activity churned to a grinding halt. Home claimed other parts of me, and I didn’t care about mucking around in the kitchen when my childhood cook was at the ready, serving up all my old favorites. It was no wonder then, that the Boy realized with delighted surprise only after we moved to California, that his spouse could throw a meal together and he didn’t have to pretend to love it.

The last year and nine months have been a journey of elaborate, made-from-scratch home-cooked dinners to throw-something-together-after-12-mindnumbing-hours-at-work meals. I have ground and peeled and grated and stirred, pureed and sautéed and infused and simmered. Concocted my own potions, and experimented with the tried and tested. Alongside my steadfast mission of honoring my roots, I have expanded my repertoire of recipes, scouring cookbooks and aunts’ memories, discovering food bloggers, and calling my mother at odd hours to ensure that exact taste of home. I have delighted in the heady scents of spices, the delicate notes of lavender and lemon, the more temperate palate of soups and bakes, and the kick of fiery Thai curries. The Boy devours it all like he was born to it, wants dhandar and fish every Sunday, recommends my dhansak to anyone within earshot, and is wowed by all the things Parsis can do with the humble eedu.

I cook for friends. I create for family. I conjure with all my senses and rejoice in feeding people. And today, I take a moment to acknowledge the amazing lady from whom this love of food and its preparation is inherited. Born on November 5th, 94 years before this one, my Granny left us many years ago, but in so many ways lives on. A sorceress in the kitchen and puppeteer of an intricate ingredient minuet, her food—comforting, flavorful, hearty, deceptively simple, nutritious, and madly scrumptious—was the stuff of my childhood dreams, and I am so, so glad her love of the culinary arts skipped a generation and was bestowed on me. (Also inherited were the chubby genes and the ability to be a human pillow that annoyingly skipped a generation too, but never mind that. 🙄 )

I do not aim to match my grandmother’s skill, for that is the stuff of family legend, with relatives traveling miles out of their route for a taste of her good stuff. I only wish to be the flag bearer of her passion for the things that nourish our body and spirit. George Bernard Shaw was bang on when he said “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” And I know he and my mum’s mum are having an agreeable chin wag about that wherever in the firmament they are.

Happy birthday, Granny. In these delicious ways, may I continue to honor you.

A Week in Bullet Points

5 Nov
  • Our trip to the East Coast was fantastic. Everything we wished for and more. One of those rare periods of time when everything went off seamlessly, without a glitch, and we created stronger bonds and happier memories. No, I’m not gushing. This time was truly precious and we will always cherish it. For me, it was my best trip ever, to any place. And in the fray for that title were the surprise trip to Mussoorie to see Ruskin Bond and our pretty plush honeymoon in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand.
  • It was also surreal. We walked around on campus, with me interspersing our contemplative silence with stories of “Here’s where we marched against the war in Iraq…” and “Here’s where we all lay down at 3 in the morning to watch a meteor shower….” and “This is where I watched the plane hit the second tower…” and I kept expecting the guys from the Engineering School to call out, “Hey, Bawi!” and to see my Swathi, flatmate and darling friend, scuttle down University Hill like the white rabbit, announcing she was late. I half expected to hear Prof. Evatt’s Texan drawl, to turn the corner and have Prof. Guiniven tell me he’d never met an Indian he didn’t like (and I’d retort that I had), and to witness one more candlelight vigil at the Hendricks Chapel. It was like time had formed a vacuum corridor and sucked out most of the people I knew and replaced them with fresher faces who looked at me blankly. But those who remained remembered me. And I was engulfed in warm hugs and exclamations. It was good to be back. It had been too, too long.
  • I surprised myself. Did not shriek or cry like I’d imagined I would. Laughed and exclaimed a lot. I visited my first apartment. Rang the bell, was buzzed in, and begged to be let in to see the first room I paid for with my own money. The suspicious Chinese student looked at me like I was Saddam Hussein and waved me away. I had on an angora beret for Pete’s sake, I wailed to the Boy. Who in their right mind would wear fancy headgear if they wanted to bust an apartment?  😦
  • New York City was the perfect starting and ending point for our trip. Devoid of any powerful memories, it is neutral ground and I can view it any way I choose to. And we chose to have fun! A day of Manhattan-ing at the Met, in Central Park, and on Broadway (Watch Mary Poppins! It’s excellent!) with the Boy’s brother and cousins was so enjoyable, even though we all had sore feet from all that gadding about. I spent an afternoon with an old and dear girlfriend. And it’s true what an ex-colleague said to me on this trip: You don’t realize how much you’ve missed someone until you see them. The City brought home how alarmingly soft we’ve grown in California. This was the first time since we moved in 2011 that we used public transport. Yup. You can close that jaw now. No wait, let me finish. I was the prissy princess who sanitized her hands each time she rode the subway. Okay, now I’m all done. Oops, too late, a fly just sauntered in.
  • I visited the place where awful things had happened to me. And stared it in the eye, cursed under my breath, then out loud, blew out bitterness like smoke rings, and then let it go. I faced my demons and made my peace with the past. I will carry its lessons for a lifetime, but I cannot be burdened with its weight anymore. Wonder of wonders, there were no sniffles, and I suspect that had to do with the rock standing by my side through it all.
  • I also found my Gujarati grandma, sitting right where I had left her 7 years ago, and knew I was home. Someday I will share how special this delightful 85-year-old is, her life story, and her progressive beliefs, but for now, all I’ll say is that she embraced the Boy like the son she never had and told me my piyar had been waiting for me all along. Life is too short, and good souls too many, to love and be loved by people related only through blood.
  • Even so, my brother was the highlight of this trip, though we met way too briefly. I hadn’t seen him in nearly two years, and this meeting did us both good. Siblings become even more precious as we grow older, do they not? That I got to see him in Boston, my favorite city in the country, was the icing on the dark chocolate torte. My baby brother made lassi for me. *sniff* And offered us homemade kaju katli. *blubber* He’s all growned up now. *desperately searches for a tissue* He was still eating leftovers from our dinner together, 4 days later. Praise the lord some things never change.
  • On this journey eastward and pastward, places, memories and people melded to form a potent amalgam in our lives. We met new family, old friends, my American parents and bonus grandma, both our only siblings (as as textbook first-borns, the Boy and I feel a shade responsible for these 31- and 29-year-old men respectively), ex-coworkers, advisors, mentees, and then we met one additional person: the old me.  The Boy quite liked her, I think. This was the last bastion in the list of places that have made me who I am, and also the most significant. And I was glad he could meet the 20s me, and the places that sculpted the person who eventually became his partner. Me, I smiled at her quietly, and told her she hadn’t done too badly for herself. She tried her best and gave it her all, and for that I will always love her.
  • We came home sated. And so, so much richer. How can anyone who acquires a pair of chocolate suede boots not be fabulously wealthy? Immediately upon our return, our life and friends here swarmed around us busily, and even as we were swept along, we know we’ll always look back with gratitude at this most blessed of times, a moment when life truly came full circle for me.