Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Going Back

For the past 15 years I had been contemplating about going back to Delhi - just to visit friends and look up all the old places that I used to frequent while I lived there. Somehow the opportunity or a reason to go to Delhi never came up and going alone for a weekend just to mingle with old friends was frowned upon heavily by family. Thankfully a very dear friend of mine decided to get married and the whole family had a reason to go to Delhi.

There was a lot of excitement everywhere, another dear friend called me and threatened dire consequences if I didn't stay with her and both of us had a lot of conversations about our husbands meeting for the first time, food likes and dislikes and the menu plan for the five days that we would stay with her. The menu plan was an impressive array of Mongolian, Lebanese and Italian cuisines along with some Indian fillers which I used to eat at her house many moons ago. I was to be the guinea pig for the recipes that would make it to her soon to be published cookery book and kept my fingers crossed!

The great thing about friends is that one can take up exactly from where we left off and after banishing our respective husbands and children to their respective rooms we talked like there was no tomorrow and caught up on each others lives, thankfully the husbands and the kids got along quite well so we could leave them together and go do our own thing.

I went back to my school after more than a decade and this time with my son which felt kind of strange. I bribed the ferocious looking watch man and gave him emotional crap about wanting to show my son this grand school where I once studied. We walked around and to my relief not much had changed and whatever had changed was not at the cost of open spaces and greenery. The gardens were perfectly manicured, flower beds bloomed with seasonal flowers, the canteen was still at the same place and so were the water coolers. I peered through the art room to see the wall where my creations were once displayed and the award I had received from K R Narayanan (one time President of India) for my art. The Banyan Tree which was also our school emblem had spread its branches forming a shady green canopy; the props from Rang De Basanti were thankfully not in evidence.

We walked down the lane behind the school to Nathu's and I remembered the many times that we had sneaked out of the gates to have their famous chaat and gol gappa. We drove down to Defense Colony market and ate at Aka Saka (as Faley's had closed down). I requested the chef to make me roast pork noodles which no longer seemed to be on the menu. The gentleman at Defense Stores where we ordered grocery from seemed frozen in time and still looked the same. I introduced myself and said that we stayed in A33 and at once he recollected my Father's name and enquired about my Mother and gave me updates about who had died, who had moved and how many old shops had closed and so on.

My favorite bakery had closed down so I reluctantly brought my son an ├ęclair from the one that had taken its place. I took my son to the toy store where I used to buy comics and toys - this gentleman had grown older and frailer. I was overjoyed to see that the small little library behind the market was still in existence. The house where I had spent 18 years of my life however had been razed down and a new building was being built in its place.

So much had changed yet so much remained just the same. The houses were grander, the roads were wider, the people were richer, the familiar landmarks were gone and there were new ones in their place and some roads and the parks which seemed grand before appeared to have shrunk. It felt like home but it also felt like a maze where I tried to search my past looking for some reassuring signs of familiarity. At times it felt as if the city had overtaken me in terms of progress and it seemed vast and strange and at times it felt that I had outgrown the city as my horizons had widened.

It's good to go back home...

11 comments:

Kausum said...

and you have matured than before. Things have changed aint it

Shreemoyee said...

I feel that way about Bombay. I grew up there, and strangely this time I will be going home to Delhi, because thats where my parents are now.And of course Calcutta.

goldennib said...

Things are never as we remember them.

ichatteralot said...

@Kausum: Things always change, even if they remain the same, we change!

@Shreemoyee: Have a great time and just FYI, Bombay is changing for the worse. Living here now I exactly know the meaning of the phrase 'real estate sharks'

Goldennib: Thats the ultimate truth ... sigh!

Grey Shades said...

Ah the whiff of Nostalgia! Nice post lady. It made me remember the time I went to a place which wasnt home but still a place very dear to my heart. Another Roxette fan I see here :)

The Comic Project said...

Congrats on getting featured on intentblog :-)

prachi said...

hi buddy,
its great going home after a long time..and even more when you have soem special memories hidden there...
things can changed but the memories cant be erased from our mind...

Nautilus said...

I wonder what it'd be like to go back to school...haven't gone within 500 yards of school in a decade and a half :-)

Kausum said...

Pujo'r Subhechha!

ichatteralot said...

@Grey Shades: Thanks! I Loooovvve Roxette - their songs have so much energy!

@TCP: It was a good experience - I got a taste of how people can go on and on and comment about nothing!

@Prachi: True - almost all my memories are precious and my blog is mostly memories...

@Nautilus: Depends - our school didn't focus too much on studies so I guess I liked it for that reason!

@Kausum: Shubho Bijoya!

Grey Shades said...

Yes yes thats so true and they are so retro! If either one of them runs for the PM's post I'll make sure I take the effort to go and vote :) And some of their CD's are so rare :(