Nov 3rd, 2008 – we landed at Mumbai airport after an 8 hour flight from Rome, planning to surprise Appa’s parents on Diwali. We were exhausted, after a 3 week trip through Italy, with N still a toddler of a year and a half.
Yesterday, Nov 3rd, 2009 was the one year anniversary of our return back to India. Appa celebrated with his colleagues – by going drinking at the Boulder Hills Club. Me? I celebrated by being a good Mom. No exasperation or frustration. Just taking things as they come.
The last year has been, well, a mixed bag as they say. Alongwith the candies and the sweets we had really nasty things coming out of that bag. And our return, sadly, started with something nasty.
Here’s what happened just the week that we returned – bomb blasts ripped the foundations of Guwahati, the city that I grew up in, and in which my parents and relatives lived. 18 bombs, killing more than a hundred people. I was struck with horror, and hollow with shock for a few days.
Then, just a month after, Mumbai was rocked with the brazenness of the terrorists who brought down the city to its knees for a harrowing day and more.
Appa and I thought, in all selfishness, was it right to come back, and put N in a country where there was such a blatant show of terrorism? On the other hand, most of the people we loved and knew were here ( and after all, terrorists had already struck at the heart of the US too, no place was safe, as it were). At least this was our country, good or bad. Maybe the good would show up soon.
Of course, one of the good things that come out of that mixed bag was the constant touch with parents, and my sis, and other relatives who we would rarely get to see. We were counting the other day how much family N has met since we got back – and its been great. As soon as we came back, she spent Diwali with her Tata and Paati in Mumbai. ANd then of course there was the meeting of the two great devils in my life, my little sis and N.
Then I went to Guwahati for a month and a half with her , where she had a rollicking time. And she started speaking good Assamese. Okay okay – so it was a mix.
“Aita, Another Sau”, meaning Aita, move again, in Assamese, N said one day, asking my Mom to move coz she was trying to sweep the floor. Ma died with laughter that day. Koka was buying her Chocolates every day.
In April, I went back again, this time to attend my cousin’s Thread Ceremony, something that I never could have done if I were living in the US.
In March, and then again in June, we travelled to Bangalore for Appa’s cousin’s engagement and wedding. AGain, unimaginable if we were in the US. For the wedding, Appa’s brother came down from Canada, alongwith his daughter Anoushka. This was great, because Aswin and his family are now faraway, and N will get to see her cousin only occasionally.
During this time, Paati, Appa’s Mom, broke her leg – hit by a speeding maniac on a Bike. She is still hobbling around on her leg, and gaining the strength to walk, after 6 months of the injury. Definitely, one of the worse things that came out of the bag this year. N and I spent some time in Mumbai helping out.
In July, Paati and Tata came to visit us inHyderabad. Before that, my Mom, her sis and Riku, her son who’s only 10 came over. We had a blast, showing them around. My sis visited with her boyfriend, and I found myself driving for the umpteenth time to Charminar and Laad Bazaar ( not that I did not enjoy it).
And then, in September, we made a 10 day trip to Delhi, to make sure we met up with everybody in India we knew pretty much. It was a blast, especially because we were there during Durga Puja.
During this time, of course, Gypsyfeet Travels was being born. I spent 10 days in December and 10 days in April travelling, minus N. The first trip was to Upper Assam, all the places that I had always wanted to visit while growing up. In fact, more, I travelled all the way to the Myanmar border. In april, I travelled to Bhutan, a trip that was, to put it simply, exhilarating.These trips were also pilot trips for Gypsyfeet, the travel company that we were starting. I blogged quite extensively about these travels.
We did our first trip in the NE, called Walk in the Clouds. It was in July, 2009.
Our second in September, Land of the Thunderbolts, in Sept 2009.
And our third trip is coming up soon, in Nov, 2009. We have many more trips lined up for the coming months.
And I have published a series of articles in various papers and magazines on my travels, so I can call myself a travel writer of sorts. And my children’s stories may get published, sometime in the next year. So personally, I have done some very different stuff from what I was doing in my corporate job. Of course, I had teething problems, and some of them still remain.
Appa loves our move back to India. He takes off on his Enfield Bullet everyday from home, off to work at Microsoft, where he does a hard day’s work ( or not!). He comes back in the evening to a well-kept house ( relatively speaking ) , because we have help at home, and I have the time to look after the house.
Life, in short, is very different from when we were in the US. We have much more family engagements ( commitments!), and we travel often to meet family, whereas in the US we simply travelled to see a place, or, sometimes, friends. I spend more time taking care of the house, and of N. N is growing up very differently from how she would have in the US – for one, she has a South Indian accent instead of an American one. She is also learning Telugu, something her Mother has not managed over all these years!
We continue to play a lot of sports, and I have started doing some more demanding athletic activities like longer distance cycling, and running. Even then, we end up spending more time indoors or in some AC environment, because the outdoors are just not pleasant – there’s fumes, and there is dust, and there is dirt. Or there is traffic. So I go out in the mornings and evenings, and avoid traffic hours where possible.
Gypsyfeet takes up a lot of my time, and I am travelling to the NE in December for another month, to set up things. Busy times ahead.
Appa is happy and secure and confident that the move back was good. That we did the right thing? Me? I don’t know. I feel we made trade-offs .. and got some good things and some not-so-good. Would I do it again? Probably. Maybe just for the little pleasures.