In March 2019, I had travelled to India after a gap of two years. In this post I am going to share some of the photographs and anecdotes from the trip and from my memories. I am not sure if these are very touristy, but they most certainly have a nostalgic value for me. India is a vast country, with diverse natural beauty, food, culture and architecture, with lots of history. I have often seen photos and write ups about India in magazines and travel videos, I have never been able to relate to them. I understand that, living in a place and experiencing it , is completely different to visiting a place as a tourist, the perspective is completely different. We see what we seek, perhaps I am seeking something different. This time like every time around when I am back in India, I went seeking the place that I grew up in, the one which is in my heart and mind, like the courtyard where I have played hide and seek with my cousins. the mango tree at my maternal grandparents house that I have climbed up and jumped down from, the garden that I have sat with my mother and aunts, while they sunned the pickles,stringing the jasmine and other flowers in to garlands, their hands deftly garlanding the flowers while gossiping away to glory, the temple courtyards where I would occasionally see peacocks and elephants. sleeping on the terrace gazing at the starry night and falling asleep and waking up to an orange sky with the Sun about to rise, looking at tiled orange roof tops from the terrace of my paternal grandmother s home, then to lie down flat on the hot surface of the terrace, peering down the small sun roof in to the kitchen watching my grandmother and mother stirring the pots , clanging the vessels, cutting vegetables, and garnishing,which often reminded me of symphony. Why? Because they would always move in perfect sync with each other, if my mother added tomatoes, my grandmother would add salt, one would add coriander, the other would add turmeric . Believe me I could never function that way, there would be all round chaos in the kitchen, followed by a serious meltdown. I firmly believe in too many cooks spoil the broth, but apparently it did not hold true for them. I love to walk back in the memory lane, trying to conjure up the past from my memories, with the present colliding with it and creating a mishmash of new memories.
Last month I had travelled to India, for a bit of family fun ,catching up with some good old friends and a bit of sightseeing . Travelling in India for me is full of nostalgia and fun, yet extremely overwhelming and exhausting. It is never a leisure trip. Having been born and raised in India, my formative years were spent in India. I have many memories associated with India, some good and some not so good. I often think of life as a series of experiences and memories, like a large beautiful painting made with different splashes of colours and Brush strokes. Some strokes are crisscross, some not very clear, and then there are smudges of paints, some are vibrant and some a bit dark, but together they make a beautiful painting, without these colours and strokes, the canvass would be blank. So a trip to India is always a walk back in to the memory lane for me, with many fond memories and some not so fond ones and making some new memories on the way. It is a very emotional journey for me and I usually find myself in a perpetual state of frenzy with fraught emotions. I heavily rely on a set of friends for emotional support while I am in India. And on our way back home, I usually find myself saying to my husband , in a very crestfallen voice, ‘I need a holiday !!!!’ I love the country that I was born in and raised, but the country that I go to now, is alien to me. I have this place in my memory, which used to be my home, and then there is this place that I am visiting now, very different to my memory. I have changed as a person and the place that I am visiting now has changed. I am a person who has a birth country and home Country. I belong to both cultures, but in heart now I am a Londoner. Home to me means, London, I need my Victoria Sponge Cake or a Sticky Toffee pudding to perk up my spirits, Mind the Gap on a tube station is music to my ears, to be able to bolt to a museum as soon as I feel like is a fact I love, when I am away, I start missing the grey overcast sky of London . I love the fact that I am part of a city which is a multi cultural melting pot. When I feel like having a Masala Chai I could head in to any Curry house or head to East Ham for a Idli or head to Leicester Square for a steamed dumpling, or head to Turkish Street for a Turkish Tea and Biscuits.
“I think you travel to search and you come back home to find yourself there.” ― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie