Just back from a fleeting but much awaited trip to India (home)! Right from when the flight announces its intent to land on home ground, anxiety takes over. An unwarranted but constant battle begins - that between- Expectations and reality! Past and present! Change and Constants!
The first few hours were spent reconciling between all my worlds. Estranged connections started to wire up and the contours of the city I visited a year ago began to take shape. It seemed like a lot had happened in the time I was away. The city had a strange arrogance this time around. Perhaps I noticed it just as an Audi whooshed past. The city was embellished with consumerism that came to life as I drove past crowded stores of Louis Vuitton, Zara, Clarks- wondering if the hoarding of a 'Khadi Bhandar' would show up behind the rummages of the past! Just as I was looking out- the bumpy roads, traffic jams, packed auto rickshaws and the lady wearing jasmine on her hair, took me back to familiar ground in a jiffy.
The IT industry had found its roots in Bangalore a few years ago. However, it seemed like it is only now that one can visualize the impact of that change, in the form of an established and definitive new culture. The denizens were foreign and yet seemed to define the very essence of the cities character. The language, the phrases, the grammar had all changed and money seemed to be dominating conversations. Even the one rupee coins had changed weight and shape. However there was a fresh energy,confidence, even sense of fashion that I saw in all segments of the city. Every job had got a new 'avatar', every service was re-packaged, every person had a new wardrobe and was technically advanced. The euphoria could be felt all around and was evident in the prosperity and choices people were making.
The election campaign, and victory of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi proclaimed that change was again landing itself. This time not confining itself to a specific industry or city, but it was going to guzzle the entire nation. The victory moved me; Strangely I could feel an excruciating yet pleasant pain within when I heard they had won. It brought back hope which had ceased to exist in this country with a dis-functional democracy.
I realized that 'time is now' and transactional presence cannot be matched with any number of fleeting visits. I complained and struggled to find my roots in this new city like a clingy child. I failed to find a good reason to reconcile with some shallow aspects of the culture. But if you did see through all that clutter, my soul was alive again. I enjoyed spending time with family - (that is unmatched to anything in life) , meeting friends, having conversations, thinking and mostly feeling! There is just an abundance of everything out there. Maybe it is that which is overwhelming and makes me want to wander off to new cities often times.
I am back now in London after what seemed like the longest flight ever. I walked the streets today- looking for something familiar, a face a routine, or passion. I realized that all my life I have worked hard in filling life with a constant 'longing'. Maybe thats what makes me seek and makes me empty at the same time. One needs to be 'empty' to 'fill up' and one should 'long' to 'find'. On that note, I was reminded of something thats been bothering me all day.
“We all have an old knot in the heart we wish to untie.”
Here is to a new year in London. Hoping some knots get tied, some untied and the year is fulfilling in its own way.