Dispatches from India – That old me, did I lose her in the streets of Delhi?

 I have been writing about traveling to India with a toddler for the first time, but this post is about me. Yesterday my parents, the babe and I went driving through Green Park, and Hauz Khas, and IIT. We went to McDonalds and had McAloo tikki burger and paneer salsa wrap and came out into a sidewalk swarming with people. College goers in plenty, young professionals, their moms and dads. Street vendors with colorful bindis and bangles. They all seemed so familiar. As if I knew them, a friend, a classmate, a hairdresser, an aunt. But of course I didn’t. These were the anonymous faces of my youth and childhood. The ones that dot the background in crowds, never in focus, now suddenly coming back to welcome me home. And then there were some – the girl talking shyly with her boyfriend over dosas at Evergreen, or the college girl in a white conservative salwar kameez, walking with long strides. Wait! Isn’t that me? Its like being in the middle of a Bollywood song where I switch clothes and shed years and can fly back many years, without the music of course. It’s been five years since I have been here. And in those years, I have become a mom, done and quit my job. Gained 40lbs, shed much of the youthful appearance, developed gray hairs and thoughts, seen wrinkles on my dreams and have learnt that marriage is not all romance and roses and dreaming. So it felt today that I have left part of me behind here. In these people, these images, these moments. I thought they were long gone. But today they were back. With a dreamlike quality possible after days of jet lag. :)Later as I drove through Hauz Khas, I bit back tears. I had spent so much time here with my husband, hiding our romance, enjoying our stolen moments and ‘dates’ which were nothing more than walks to the bakery or a tutor or around the park. So much love at that point, and so many aspirations, untempered by time or reality.

Why did we have to move on? Or did we have to? I had a sense of having left so much of my life behind when we joined our jobs and moved away. Now I was a stay at home mom. Something I never thought I would be. And I did so many things I never thought I would do – like worry about my next dinner, of house cleanup, or mortgage payment. And I don’t do so many things I thought I would – like believe everything is possible, become a millionaire and so on.Was I just an impractical fool? Or was that the real me that I left behind somewhere in my smoggy, much missed Delhi.

Is it just because I have come after 5 years that I feel this way? Or maybe anyone feels like this when they go back to their home town? Let me know your thoughts.

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3 Comments

  1. Maya

    My god, am I homesick! I grew up in those streets of Delhi….oh I loved having dosas at Evergreen and walking in the crowd…another anonymous soul in the throngs of people in India.
    I left all that to pursue the American dream I guess…wanting to prove our worth to the rest of the world…a new confident Indian emerging from the shadows of a third-world stigma.
    I am here now and I live the same boring life of my neighbours…I go to work, try to be a good employee by being a doer rather than a thinker, and I come back home exhausted. Where is the romance in life? All the fun we had with our first child back in Blore…life was so stress-free! how was that? we were first time parents, living away from our families, onto our first meaningful jobs and doing really well there…how did we have time to talk to each other everyday? how did we manage to take vacations to exotic countries and still be “high potentials” at work, satisfied and happy at home?

  2. Khushi Mommy

    I hear you, Maya.I feel so like you,this seems like a conundrum of our lives.

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