A year ago, I started writing this post with the words: “It is now the second consecutive New Jersey winter that I will be enduring. The 4th overall.”
A year later, the thought hits home stronger than ever, except that it is now the 3rd consecutive winter to endure out of a total of 5 so far in the US. 7 winters that I have been away from Bombay. During which I have gone through 8 different “homes” distributed over 5 different towns (2 different continents). Today I can say I look forward to going back to hearth and home (and a Mrs due to whom it seems worthwhile) at the end of the day. And yet, a thought lingers at the back of the mind..
One would think that you get used to some feelings. Every time I have gone to Bombay and then have to finally leave.. it sucks. What I feel now is tangential. A feeling where one is stuck and you know you are not leaving. You make a home. You feel happy. You somehow get past the fact that this is not “back home”, at long last. After 6 winters of feeling the lack of “that home”, the stage is reached that you have a viable alternative.
And yet, you want it to be even better. You want all of this, back there. You wonder how much better or how much worse it will be. You hear horror stories of Bombay today, of how it is not the place you think it to be. Why its such a bad idea to even consider settling in India. How its a rose-tinted lens that you are remembering it by, and that getting out of that country is probably the best thing to do. Never go back. If only I had a cent for every time I have heard the thought “Bombay/India is best experienced as a visitor today”, I could probably afford to go back to India.
Something I read on Ebert’s blog probably says it well enough:
I identify with the meaning given to “nostalgia” by Tarkovsky, which in one Russian sense means a longing for one’s home so sweet and sharp one might almost leave home in order to feel it.
If anything, the recent return travel of parental figures may have slightly exaggerated what I feel. It seems memories of being in Bombay are filled with lots of people and lots of talking and lots of noise. Even sitting alone in the afternoon flipping through a book (or even channels on the TV) while the house naps.. the sounds of an outside world, a bustling city going about a daily routine permeated to where I sat 4 floors up. Horns, yells, drills, motors. And made everything seem so much more alive. Here? The winter brings with it a deathly silence from the outside at any time of day, a quiet that creeps into the house.. trying steadfastly to kill what efforts we make to combat it. Somehow hustle-and-bustle seem alien to this world, almost as though everything should happen soundlessly. Take for instance, the fact that neighbors’ dogs you meet in the corridor of your building seldom bark. At most a muted nip, destroyed in the throat before it is heard. Bombay? Dogs must fight to have themselves heard, even late at night.
I try not to think too much about what is to come in my life. Yes, it scares me… but that is not what really stops me. It is a worry that such plans and schemes will make me into the kind of person I don’t want to be — the person who does not want to return because it doesn’t fit into his current plan (as the Joker says, “Schemers.. schemers trying to control their little worlds.“). Which eventually becomes he cannot return, because he is too out of touch with a reality that now feels.. unreal (for lack of a better word).
It feels as though I need to focus on only today for now. Try and hold onto thoughts and feelings that make me still want to go back home. And make sure that I do.