Tag Archives: nostalgia

Petrichor

10 Jun

A.k.a. June Swoon

The sky is overcast. We may even see six drops of precipitation if we are lucky. I’ve been in California long enough to not count on it. Build my hopes, only to see them knocked down with one poof of a blowaway cloud. So I’m going to close my eyes and imagine:

The road from The Bombay Store to Flora Fountain is slick and glistening from the first monsoon showers. The air crackles with wetness. Coolness. Pointy peaks of exhilaration. I am, absurdly, alone as I run along the streets, swooping through my imagination, in a world bereft of traffic and noise and fumes, starring in my very own silent movie.

Kala Ghoda approaches, and I irrationally resent my phone for auto-correcting my favorite landmark. No time to stop by at Rhythm House today, deserted just like these streets. In this version of my daydream, people are erased. No one is allowed to alter the synergy between me and my city, permeate this sacred space between us with their own agenda.

I am flying, my feet barely grazing the tar, embracing spaces and memories: the synagogue, art galleries, and museum. Cinema, antiques, and almost-love. Silver jewelry from my teenage years, nights out at eateries too unhygienic for my upbringing. Wooden steering wheels at the Yacht Club, crispy duck, a burger now banned, the wooden lattice of the Time & Talents club, and finally, the sea.

On the eve of my 29th birthday, as the clock readied to strike 12, a horse-drawn carriage pulled up by this very waterside, a surprise from indulgent friends. Off we cantered into the night, these two sweet men smiling at my elation, as I waved and blew kisses into the ether of a city sinking into uneasy slumber.

I must not halt, for the dream will end, and with it, a part of me lovingly coddled. Onward I stream to Sassoon Dock, Colaba Market, Navy Nagar and Land’s End, auto-correct repeatedly frustrating my typing efforts and reinforcing my distance from home. The evening is green as it drips toward night, and my city is a vacuum: no people, no creatures, all mine mine mine. I morph. I inflate. Giantesque, I rise above dusty skies. And gather it clattering: bridges, buildings, salt water and trees into a clumsy, awkward, heartbroken embrace. We rock, we croon, and I hum with a lover’s instinct.

Looking down at my arms, a pair of eyes–exactly mine in a smaller face–stare inquiringly at me. A chubby fist explores my moist face. My world self-folds into a soft muslin envelope, awaiting future summons. The clouds have long dissipated. For now, I am back in my baby’s familiar, sunny universe again.

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Life in California…

14 Jun

….revolves around an ivory leather couch. And a dutifully vacuumed beige carpet. Around a sweet-smelling fruit basket and an oven bubbling with cheese. Around a shared silver car and welcome home kisses. Sherlock Holmes episodes at night and the polite chirping of robins by day.

Life in California revolves around rattan chairs and a white table. Scented candles and sunflowers in a blue vase. Around the warmth of family, a clutch of friends and a cat that eyes me with minimal interest.

Life in California is the goodness of home cooking, lavender in a yellow planter, mildly scented laundry and red Netflix envelopes. French coconut pie, lemons in iced water, shimmering peach gloss and aroma oils. A merging of rhythms, the strains of Sinatra, wide open spaces and Mexican dancing.

Life in California is the technology buzz, swirls of innovation, the thick of things. The beautiful Valley and Mt. Diablo and sting of the cold Pacific on browning skin. Sareed aunties and baby booms and fresh bhel, bhature, bhungra around the nook. Sunshine and summer and chilly evenings; poolside and wifi and stacks of free books.

Life in California is an exhaled breath, a winding down, that feeling of calm. Cherishing people, valuing life, savoring a hard-fought way of being. Counting one’s blessings, praying daily and dangling an evil eye talisman in every reader’s face.

Then comes one downpour in the city of my heart and the fickle spirit turns traitor again.