What I Miss Most About Home

My husband and I spent all of December 2014 in India. On vacation! Travelling home is always special, for three reasons that I can think of: time with family & loved ones, delectable home food and the sunshine! Of course, the sound of the night watchman’s stick banging on the road every night in the same rhythm comes a close fourth!

I don’t know where the time flew! We spent a cumulative of 37 days among 7 cities, and meeting with a lot of family and friends. Planning such visits while trying to include as many as possible into our list is always a challenge. And this December visit was no less, but what’s fun if it’s not hard to do!

Now back in London, I often catch myself reminiscing the month that went by, so fast!

As I pack my lunch for work, I think of all the food doled out of grandma’s kitchen. You will not believe how many unique dishes I got to eat in the 15 days I stayed at grandma’s – 58! Doing the math, that’s 2 new dishes for every meal of the day! Grandpa had prepared a comprehensive menu, handwritten I must add, with all the days listed and everyone’s favourites, preferences and travel schedules incorporated into that one A4 sized sheet! It was adorable. Being the new block on the kid (oh! I don’t think I mentioned it before, I was the new kid around them as they are my husband’s grandparents and I was visiting them only the 3rd time since I got married!), I would sit with them in the evening, sipping on tea or tomato soup even and discuss to ‘fine-tune’ the menu in order to confirm next day’s plan for the kitchen. It was one of the most hilarious conversations, and exceedingly cute too!

There were, at one point, 18-19 people in the house, visiting! Including us, of course. And that inevitably meant post-dinner card-games! Given how cold it gets inside the homes at night during (Indian) winters, all of us would gather around the big divan in the lounge room, a big razai in the middle into which we tuck in our legs and sit covered in shawls. And, we played round after round of some gazillion types of card games! I didn’t even know there existed as many! Have you heard of games like 29, Bonus, Sh!thead, 3-2-5? And of course, there were ‘accusations’ of someone cheating, or tiffs on how the cards weren’t dealt correctly whenever someone lost – and that would lead to another ‘fair trial’ and suddenly it is past midnight and the house-play is only getting started!

Late nights, early mornings, heavy lunches and long dinners! Of course, I wouldn’t know where the time went. And it was not always about food. Soaking in the warm sun in the garden, a siesta by the window post lunch, an evening stroll in the by lanes just before tea – all such moments spent with love and in complete bliss!

If you are with me until here, then I haven’t bored you out. That said, the above is gist of just half my time in India. I keep the other half for another time, both the stories and the take-away from them.

Meanwhile, standing in my kitchen in London as I pack my lunch to work, these are the scenes that flash by, filling me up with not only gratitude, but also a resolve to keep my ties stronger to withstand any distance (any time zone)! There is also one other thing I realized, about what I missed the most about being at home – the Indian kitchens! The gas stoves, the utensils, the spice masala boxes and all the mess that comes with having so much happening all at once in one place!

Which is why, I am sharing some of the photographs of the lovely grandma’s lovely kitchen:



Reminiscence – of conversations and memories…

He stepped out of the train, and felt a rush of happiness. He always felt that way when he arrived in L. The place presented him with a sense of belonging and warmth that was almost a rarity to find; or so he claimed a few times when he spoke about his visits to L! But the truth couldn’t be ignored and it reflected in his eyes every time he did speak about his trips to L, that his heart felt at ease, his mind at peace and if it was not too much to say, he felt connected with himself a lot more whenever in L. 
And, it felt exactly the same this time around too. He stepped onto the platform, put on his jumper and the cool breeze that was gently brushing against his face brought a lot of smiles. He was thinking of her. He would meet her the first thing whenever in L. It was almost 9pm and he knew, although she would be readying the dinner table her eyes would constantly be on the corner of that lane, eagerly waiting for him to appear there. He also knew she would wait until she catches a glimpse of him there at the turn but only to quickly trace her glance back to setting the dishes on the table. His smile broadened a little more when he guessed exactly what she would have prepared for dinner – his favourite dish, Prawns cooked in butter, garlic, lemon juice and parsley, served with fresh crusty bread. He couldn’t get enough of it, and she would never get tired of preparing the same dish every time he came to visit her. 
He took the turn, and casually looked around the place. All so familiar and yet he always felt excited about coming back here. The rush of happiness made his cheeks pink, and he was smiling broadly than ever. He opened the gate, walked towards the door, and there she was – standing at the patio, her signature apron tied around her waist and arms wide open with the warmest smile one could possibly exude. “Hi Grandma!” – he said and hugged her like a kid. A-tight-hug-and-a-tiny-peck later, she looked back at him and said, “…was the journey okay?”, adding with a smile, “…ready for dinner now?”. 
His Grandpa was standing by the stairs, and he always made sure he was at home whenever the grandson was to come. Their connection was unique, for each grew up with the other and I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I called one the reflection of another.   
As they sat around the table for dinner, the conversation drifted along sprinkled with laughter…; and if I were to ask you to imagine yourself as an audience to a film, I would probably zoom out of the window and leave the three to their bliss.  
…but, clearly, I want to write more. And a writer’s pen wields more, we know that. So sit back and continue reading. 
I am reminded of a forward email I read a long time back, “you know you grew up in India in the 90’s because:” and it goes on to list about 75 reasons; one of them being, “…because: Your summer vacations were often synonymous with visiting your grandparents.” Mine have been so one hundred percent. We would always catch the early morning train and travel for a day to come visit my grandparents for two months. The only adjective that can be used to describe each one of my stays, and each of the things that I have done during my stay, which included a whole lot of eating is: ‘awesome’. What is it about them that is so endearing I wonder, to myself and in rare cases, in a blog post like this. Perhaps, it is the ability to absorb all our emotions, unconditionally, and exude to us only the kindness, fondness and unbounded love that makes them so much more special and warm to reach out to. It is the smile they put on our faces, every single time we look at them. 
I am missing my grandparents right now, and although I cannot reach out to any of them physically, I hope to send my wishes, hugs and love to them and I know – no matter how Bollywood-ish it sounds – that they would smile back at me. Take a step back from your busy life, and give your Grandma, Grandpa a call or write them a letter, or just give them a thought – for I know (and you’d agree), we brighten up their lives as much as they do ours.