I was living with a couple different friends who had given me the keys to their house so I could return as late as I wanted, no questions asked, and no feelings hurt because I wasn't exactly spending time "with" them. This made for the best arrangement of all! I got to experience the Bombay that never sleeps, in a way I was never allowed to do for all those years of living there, since I lived with my parents.
Meeting friends was a mixed bag of emotions, as always. Lots had changed now, what with husbands, in-laws and kids in the picture. There were stories of sad and happy marriages, separations, and everything else in between. It was nice to see some very welcome changes and also nice to see that parenthood hadn't changed a thing about some of them. When we got together and caught up over street-side food and shopping, it was crazy laughter, leg-pulling and lots of heart-to-heart conversations, just like the good old days. We managed to pack the past two years or more within the 3 - 4 hour long meetings and were back on the same page with each others' lives. My friends also noticed several changes in me, but did not resist them. They insisted on buying for me little things that I felt like buying for myself and made it a point to ensure that I got my fill of all things Bambaiyya. The simple things made me realize how precious these relationships are- and how lucky I am to have them.
One on really terribly rainy day, I had planned to visit my school and college. Visiting the school I went to
On the same day, I went to my college, where I got my Bachelors and Masters degrees. Having made it through waist-deep water (often thinking about turning back and dropping the idea) I approached my old classroom and waved out to my prof who was in the middle of a class. She stared at me for a second, trying to figure me out, and then yelled "Arre TGFI! Kitni moti ho gayi hai tu!!" (= Hey TGFI, look how fat you've become!) to which the entire class turned around to look at me. Thanks, ma'am, for the warm welcome, I said. :D It was so nice to see all my profs, lots of improvements to the labs and facilities in my department, and getting offered chai and samosas in the teachers' staff room, again, a much coveted indulgence. I had been carrying around my bound thesis (in two plastic bags , much like that Bheja Fry guy) and it got lots of cheers and congratulations from my proud professors. I was so glad I made that trek in spite of the rain and managed to actually meet all my profs.
Another set of people that were on my list to meet were parents of my best friends, even if those friends were not living there. These are the people that saw me grow up, fed me when I landed up unannounced, chided me when I didn't perform well in exams, and were proud of every milestone in my life. There was a great feeling of strength in seeing them, sharing my good news with them and enjoying their warm indulgences just like it was in the old days.
At the end of five days, I had had a great time, revisited wonderful memories of my past, and added a few firsts too. I left Bombay with a broad smile on my face.