Thursday, February 02, 2006

Re-grounded to my roots

Just got back from 12 days in India, and boy were they a great 12 days. Having not been home to India in 3 years, this visit I realised what I was missing. I took glory in watching my driver have a haircut at Raju's 2mx3m barber shop, in watching the panwala across the road oiling his hair with his chuna hands in between making pan for his customers, in eating on the streets and being faced by a cow sniffing around to see if there is anything in my plate for him.

We went to India to attend my cousins wedding. 8 days of family, life stories, scooters, poojas, dupattas, dancing, singing, parathas and kulfi has left me 2 kilos heavier but so fresh and rejuvanated, I'm surprised. Is it just because I have'nt been to India in a while? or having lived in Dubai for 8 years, any whiff of culture and reality is just overwhelming? I dont know.

The only thing I could have done without were the hole in the ground toilets that are slightly difficult to use with a saree on! :)

As is obvious, 8 days of the wedding were in a very small village, so some time in the city was mandatory for an all round, all awakening trip. My last 4 days were in Mumbai where I met my close friends, ate the best food, went to the general post office (?), went to the best bars, checked out the salsa scene, danced to remixes of Kajra Re and drank Kingfisher beer! Mumbai knows how to have fun, I can't wait to go back.

You must have realised that when you land in another country and step off the aircraft, the first thing that alerts you to where you are is the smell of the air. The smell of Mumbai is very distinct: sea breeze, mud and humidity mixed with pollution from the traffic and the slums. These smells get accentuated by visuals as you walk into the airport. The havaldar (police man) in his khaki uniform with a danda (wooden stick) in his hand, the coolies running around to help you with your bags and then the taxi driver tying your 7 bags onto the top of his car and smoking a quick bidi before he makes his 250 rupees he has been waiting for, for the last 18 hours. He still manages a smile and points out landmarks in the city as he takes us home.


I landed in Dubai last night and smelt nothing but plastic mixed with expensive perfume.

Oh well, I guess thats just the way it is.
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