Coming back to this city always delights me. I revel in the familiarity that home brings; the comfort of amma’s food, the constant churn of people in the house, the amazing ability to imbibe copious amounts of cardamom laced tea. Even as I step into the house, the constant hum of the fan that tries to beckon an imaginary breeze, the incessant ringing of the doorbell and the annoyed calls across the house for someone to answer the door make me feel like I never left. And then I venture out of the house to be received by the sounds of a bustling city, and I beam at everything…the honking of horns that everyone knows are means of communicating rather than expressing anger, auto drivers convincing you that it does cost fifty rupees to go to adyar since petrol prices have gone up, the young men with sprouting moustaches who really think they’re going to get a response to “Howvaryoudoing?”…though perhaps my beaming at them could be a tad misleading.
And I do so love how busy everyone is. There is a sense of urgency here, with everyone in a hurry, perennially late, but always heading somewhere, and I can borrow their destination even when I don’t have one of my own, as long as I hurry up too.
It’s different in Palo Alto. People are still moving there…but quietly, efficiently and politely…almost unnaturally. It puzzles me how you can have a million thoughts whirring in your head and an urgency of purpose without allowing it to reflect in the sights, sounds and smells of your own little world.
That’s perhaps why I am thrilled by the chaos of my city, the aroma of filter coffee, the dizzying hum of voices…children pushing each other as they come back from school, men in cream shirts talking in low voices about that idiot boss, aunties chatting about the ridiculous price of brinjal and their very eligible sons in the US.
I don’t live in this city, at least not for now. My books, my job and a major part of my life belong to Palo Alto. But my spirit comes from Chennai, and that makes all the difference in the world.
I make plans, dream little dreams, dream bigger ones.
Think of how I’ll be when I finally grow up.. Of all the things I want to do, places I want to see, people I want to be.
But life? Life doesn’t care so much about the five year plans and long-term goals.
Life is chilly Thursday evenings spent watching a week’s worth of House episodes.
Life is searching for a particular song on a Saturday afternoon and then listening to it all weekend.
Life is dirty dishes piling up in a tiny kitchen and finding one purple-mauve sock and never figuring out where the other one went.
Life is Sunday afternoons spent with friends and home cooked meals and taking back leftovers in Tupperware boxes.
As the man said,
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans
- John Lennon
- I did not own a mobile phone. This was probably a good thing, since mobile phones were the size of a ham radio – not including the extendable antenna
- The computer I used had a CRT monitor, as did my television
- There was no Facebook
- There was also no broadband. You could fire up the computer, go make a cup of tea, catch the headlines on the 10pm news, and it would just about be ready for browsing.
- We caught the news once a day – at 10pm, and Breaking News really meant breaking news – not what Rakhee Sawant wore to a party last night
- Reality TV meant Candid Camera
- I was in high school, and had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up (The latter still holds true)
I wonder what the next ten years will bring!
What defines happiness?
What defines you?
Or are they answers to the same question?
All of the above, as I found myself saying earlier today, are perfectly true and completely irrelevant..
I’ve seen many people lose hope because they didn’t get what they want. But nothing compares to the bitter disillusionment of a person who got exactly what they wanted, and then didn’t know what to do with it.
Are we searching for answers without knowing the question?
Life. Love. Loss. Luggage. And Laughter.