Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Vacation in India

It was a long pending trip, and I had looked forward to it months ahead, starting with all the shopping, the tickets and the packing. On that bright winter evening, as I drove to the airport, I felt the usual paranoia kick in; thoughts about forgotten keys and passports abound. A long flight later I landed at the Chennai airport past midnight, and then made the surreal walk to the domestic airport alone.

The domestic airport was deserted, save for a few sleeping families and a few people intently watching Sania Mirza play on the overhead television. I took my seat near the gate after an early security check and watched several flights take off before my flight was announced.

A shuttle ride to the tarmac and then an early morning flight over a lush green landscape littered with coconut trees; before I realized it I had landed in the town of Madurai, filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing my mom and dad at the gates and witnessing my best friends' wedding (Hence the domestic flight).

Hugs, laughter and a few exited conversations later, we rushed to the hotel room so expressly arranged by my friends parents, to change. A small search for the "Theppakulam" ensued, and I found myself waving to Sathish outside the wedding hall.
Meeting my friend, the bride, their families, waving to the bridegroom (also my friend) as he smiled nervously back, trying to make sense of the Tamil conversation and speeches over the omnipresent din & commotion so typical of Indian marriages, I saw my friends getting married. Even as a spectator nervousness claimed me, so I guess it must have been the same for them. The true beauty of an Indian wedding can only be felt, it is simply too hard to explain the myriad emotions, the sheer love and support provided by a family that bonds even closer as it unites in these joyous times. I was only too happy to have made it and to watch with my parents.

Jet lag finally took its toll right after, and I simply wanted to go home. And so we did, after a gruelling car ride over the pothole filled highways. I slept blissfully and dreamlessly after a long long time.

The week that ensued was the most tranquil and idyllic times after several years of my life, reminiscent of annual holidays over sunny summers. I had nothing to do, save for "conferences" with mom and grandma, read two books a day, or simply lie back and watch the fan spin as i thought about days past. The parrots were still around the coconut trees behind the gopurams, the river had a trickle of water, and the street looked the same except for the extra storeys in peoples homes.

Another week, two more weddings, my parents' 60th birthday wedding, myriad sarees, hopping sprees, a trip to Salem for a cousins wedding, a couple of days squeezed in between to meet Ambu; so many things to do, so little time. My cousins were able to make it to my grandparents place this time when I was around. We were able to get some quality time together, reminisce about our joyful childhood days and chat late into the night the way only granddaughters could with a grandmother. Me and my cousin slept like children again, next to each other. Somehow to our grandparents, no matter how old we are, we are always, and will always remain the children of the house.

Time flew by, and it was time to come back. Usually with the ones closest to us, we hardly realize what a difference their presence makes until it is time for a separation. It was tough, saying goodbye to a mom and dad who had marked their calendars to watch for my arrival months ago, and were upset, net never shed a tear for fear of upsetting me at the last minute. In that one second at the airport, I saw true love. And for that one minute, I did not want to come back. Maybe separation is the greatest gift god can give us, it is when we are apart do we realize the true importance of things we overlook when we are together.

I'm back to the usual hustle and flow of life now, yet keep looking back to those three blissful weeks when time stood still, yet inexplicably sped by before we could notice...I relive the time in my thoughts alone.