I know this post is long due. I know you have been good and waited so patiently to hear about my big trip home. I hope that each one of you has had a relaxing break and that each one of you has a great year to look forward to.
Truth be told, I have not only been extremely busy on my return, I have also been a bit scared about doing this post and confronting my feelings. Because there is a truckload of thoughts to process. My mind is a landmine at the moment, ready to explode, if only i’d rock it a bit. But I sure can attempt to share a few highlights from the trip. It was one hell of a whirlwind trip.
The moment I saw my family at the airport is the moment I realised how much I had actually missed them all long. I was seeing them after almost a year. That’s a loooooooooong time. We didn’t bother to hold back our tears. And a few hurried hugs and kisses at the airport pick up point certainly didn’t seem enough. Hasn’t Karan Johar told us that it is all about loving our family?
The chief reason for this big trip home, as you already know, was the upcoming wedding of my brother-in-law. An event we were all looking forward to for so many months that we were tired waiting for it and just wanted it to arrive soon. We were a bit jetlagged, no doubt, but the endorphins kept us going. The first few days of our arrival before the wedding obviously had us running from pillar to post: to the tailors and to the salons and to the market and the caterers, the decorators, the photographers, and what not. Running zillion errands, last minute shopping, fittings and trials, bringing the whole mad house under control made us completely lose track of time until the day of journey to the far, faraway destination was finally upon us.
And how did the wedding go? Oh, it was beautiful, the journey, the venue, especially the gorgeous bride, the arrangements, the food, the dance…it all surpassed our expectations and had our guests grinning from ear to ear. No major hiccups, no glitches whatsoever! And what a big task that is to achieve when you are travelling with the entire baraat for two days non-stop. A few sparks are bound to fly, someone bullies, someone gets bullied, but it was all in good humour.
Soon upon my arrival back in Mumbai, we had yet another major wedding to attend. That of my first cousin. It wouldn’t be wrong if I said that in the past decade or so we have literally grown up together. We lived in the same neighbourhood, which obviously meant catching up with each other on a daily basis and sharing all kinds of stories, secrets, clothes, moments and many, many jokes. It is the kind of bond that only sisters can share. It was hard to see her go. I was simply not ready for that. And the knowledge that she would be moving to a different continent altogether was no comforter either. Thanks to Skype and what’s-app once again, we will survive. Thank God for technology.
Then came my first wedding anniversary. Looking at our busy schedule, I didn’t really expect it to be a biggie. But I was wrong. TCG whisked me away to one of the most exotic and classic hotels in Mumbai for the night and pampered me silly. Between gifts and hugs and over a 3 glasses of bubbly, he said all the right things that I wanted to hear so badly and made my day. I know I should have given him more credit than I did. Looking at our busy time, I really didn’t think that TCG would go to such lengths to make that day so special for us. That will remain to be the most treasured memory of this trip.
Soon after this, we braced ourselves for the big trip to Kutch. By this point, yes we were a little tired, yes we were sleeping very less, yes we were constantly squeezing in time to meet all the people we wanted to really catch up with, yes it got painfully hectic, so much so that we had to literally stick to a timetable to be able to squeeze in all. But the endorphins kept us going. This was my only chance to purely ‘family time’ and I wouldn’t sacrifice that for anything. TCG’s family and mine were together on this trip and I, for one, had the best time of my life. We visited the breathtaking ‘Kala dungar’ (Black Mountain) and the enchanting ‘Safed rann’ (White desert) and marvelled at the beauty that nature is. If you haven’t been to these places, I would definitely encourage you to go there. Several hundred photographs, entertaining conversations around bonfires that we had going every night to keep away the chill, awesome food and treasured moments with my families are the moments from this little trip that I have locked away forever.
After this trip was my last week in India, which I planned to spend at home in Mumbai. But I have two homes now, the house I grew up in and my in-law’s. And I was torn between the two. This was my first trip home after the wedding and sub consciously whenever I thought about home I thought about the home I grew up in, and not my in-laws. And that I think is natural. Even when I was visiting my parent’s home, I had so many things to do, and there were so many guests who visited that I never found any time at all to sit down peacefully with my folks alone, undisturbed, forgetting the new responsibilities that come with being married and asking them how they really were doing without me. I couldn’t ask them if they missed me, I couldn’t ask them if they were doing fine, I couldn’t ask them about their health, I couldn’t ask them about the new developments in their life. There was no time to do any of that. It pained me to think how marriage has changed the nucleus of life. I know that my parents had been looking forward the whole year to spend some quality time with me, but that could not happen. There always were people around; there always were things to do. The part that hurts me the most is that I could not find one private hour to spend with my mom and to take stock of her health. And imagine my guilt when I found out, soon upon my return to New Zealand, that my mom was admitted to the hospital. I felt terrible.
I know in my heart that ever since marriage, I have prioritized my marital home over my parent’s. I tried my best to give neither side a reason to complain. And I know for a fact that if anybody at all; it is my own parents who would have received a step-motherly treatment from me because I was always prioritizing my new family. But I guess that happens. I guess that is the called being ‘grown up’. I guess that is part and parcel of marriage. I went out of my way to make things happen seamlessly and to supervise and coordinate all the wedding-related and other arrangements. But I may still have fallen short. Some things may have slipped my mind, given the fully-packed nature of this trip. I may have overlooked a thing or two and I may have hurt some feelings unknowingly. And often the things you miss are the things that people take notice of. Right? What can I say? I did my best. But I really hope I have given my fair share of time to all who matter. I think, every married Indian woman living overseas and visiting home once a year would be facing this dilemma of dividing her time between two homes. It sucks, doesn’t it? Being all grown up and responsible…not fun!
One of the most irritating and painful lows of this trip was a bad case of my dental health. About ten visits to the dentist, two ceramic fillings and one root canal is definitely not something I had on my itinerary at all. It took up a lot of my time, my mindspace, money and patience. And even upon my return to New Zealand, I still have one rigidly sensitive tooth that has just stopped obliging and behaving. And that it will cost me a bomb to get it treated here, is not in the slightest way comforting. Buying a ticket back to India and getting my tooth treated would be cheaper. AND I AM NOT EXAGGERATING!
The hero of this trip was my brother, silently slogging, chauffeuring us through heavy traffic, taking us around, helping us shop, lifting our bags (not literally), bringing us things, and overall just helping us with everything possible and treating us like we were the most important people in his world. He never once lost his cool. Vishal, you are the most amazing person in my world, and I miss you the most.
And since I am in the mood of giving credits, special mention of TCG is a must. He single handedly overlooked all the travel, all the wedding arrangements, all the coordination, and in addition to that all the very boring documentation work related to our visas. He with is Zen-like qualities is the epitome of patience and calm. I wish I could have a part of that at least.
It felt like the month raced past us in a blink of an eye. Waking up in Wellington felt unreal.