Monday, August 06, 2007

Yeh hai Bambai meri jaan: redux

Bombay was calling. One last fling before I left the country, she beckoned, and I had to go. I landed in Bombay with a broad smile on my face. For those five days, my life was the exact opposite of how it has been for the past 2 months. Wake up early, meet A for lunch, B for coffee, C for dinner. Get up, repeat with a whole new set of people. With most of my friends either working or at home with little babies, it was not easy to get them to come out and meet in the same place. So it was a nice logic puzzle to combine folks on the same train line with old haunts I wanted to revisit, simultaneously finish my shopping, errands and of course factor in the great mumbai monsoons. And it was a total blast from my past!

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 20 24 (no thanks to CC for pointing that out) years ago was quite an overwhelming experience, and my day was made when my junior KG teacher actually remembered my name, and introduced me as one the school's best students! They were all very emotional and very proud of me and my achievements. My teacher opened up her secret stash of candy and handed me two chocolates- these were special. They were reserved for students who did a good job in cursive writing and did not cross the red and blue lines in the notebook. :D The classroom of little 3 year olds kept staring at me , envy mixed with wonder.

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.


Anonymous said...

Dont know what exactly it is, but this post of urs touched me in a different way..
Reminded me of the times I went visiting my school and college in my native place..
Reminded me of the times I meet my old friends and see the changes in them.. and how they react to the ones in me..

This post is one straight-from-the-heart to touch-the-heart!

Pri said...

awwwwww now you've gone and made me feel all home sick. sniff.

Janefield said...

glad u had such smash hit time :) i know how it must feel to go back down nostalgia lane full of sweet memories :-) i had a similar experience recently too!

Rebellion said...

Beautiful post Lajjo, direct dil se. Lurved it totally! In fact, made me all senti & nostalgic. Love the school story. Glad you had a great time. It'll make the next 2 years go easy for you :)

Neihal said...

This is such a beautiful senti-type post. But I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Girl you deserved it! all that fun and all that praise. :)

shub said...

Wowowowowowow. Lovely, lovely post. Heartwarming. Your best yet, I think. :)

Tachyoson said...

glad you could enjoy it in the town we appear to share.

ferret said...

nice post! and it must feel so gr8 to hear such good words from school and college teachers,,, i just hope they'll let me enter my school now :P

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

:) Am glad this hit home

awww! that was not the intention, i praamise you. :p

:) Yeah, going down the memory lane felt really good!

:) yeah babe, it'll keep me going for sure. I'm glad i blogged it out to remind me!

thanks babe. :)

really? my best? ooh thanks :)). bombay does that to me, i guess. :p

am sure living there makes you see it in a not so beautiful light. But i've missed it, and i love it, even though I may never go back to live in it.

thanks girl. yes, it felt really great. i did a lot of silly things at school, too, btw, but i think the teachers will always like to see us and how we tunrned out. :)

Calvin said...

Ah, really nice visit to my school and colleges is long over due....hopefully this year...

Reshmi said...

Good one! you made all of us so nostalgic :)