Monday, December 30, 2013

The India Hangover

The evening sun in Mumbai

You know that growing sense of badly suppressed excitement before an India trip? Well, I used to know it- what seems like but is not- ages ago. 

It used to start many months before the actual trip- when I decide the trip dates and start looking for flights. Being an obsessive spreadsheet-maker I would narrow down costs and options into a table and finally narrow down on one. You can hear my heart thump slowly, like the sound of feet before a long run. In a few weeks, however, those drums would be drowned by the din of everyday life. Deadlines, weekend plans, grocery lists.

Then, one fine day about a month before the trip, I would suddenly remember "Oh, I am going to India in a month!". Those beats would begin again faintly in the background. Slowly yet steadily growing louder.
About two weeks before the actual trip, I would realize I haven't done the gift shopping yet. And I have only one weekend. I would make a list of things to get, and kill myself running across the city in that one weekend. Sometimes, I would also be ripped off by the Amazon shipping costs. 

The next few days would be a race between me and all my to-do lists. Pending bug fix, check. Collected gift package from leasing office, check. I-20 signature- oh hell, I forgot that... and so on. And in those rare minutes I catch myself thinking, I would feel the impatience. 48 more hours to board the flight. And 26 hours after that. Why can't I be home sooner?

Then D-Day would arrive and I would do all the last minute packing and re-checking that I locked my place and finally reach the airport. Oh hell, forgot my ipod charger. But that would appear minor compared to the prospect of going home. The drums would be audible again. Playing an interesting beat, almost like a folk song. And as I feel the airplane engines rev up and leave the ground I would hear the drums being accompanied by a full blown orchestra- "I am going home." To people I love...

I call this whole process the pre-India-trip-build-up. Sometimes accompanied by the sudden sense of nostalgia, it makes me wonder if Cheran's (of "Autograph" fame) spirit is somehow haunting me..

Guess what, I don't know that feeling anymore. This time I went through the charade of spreadsheets and to-do lists and gift buying. But no drums. When I got into my flight in SFO, I fell asleep almost instantaneously.  In fact, during my layover at the London airport I was just bored and counting the minutes before I could sleep on a comfortable bed.

Not to say I was not looking forward to the India trip. With my newfound interest in photography I had huge plans of taking beautiful "bringing-out-the-colors" pictures of bangle stores and smiling old ladies with huge nose-rings. And sunsets on dusty roads and crowded markets. You get the drift. And I WAS looking forward to meeting my family and friends. Maybe the little music director in my head was on a vacation. (This reminds me of the homunculus argument! But I digress... ) But somehow, the excitement I usually have for going home was just a little dim..

(To be continued...)

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