Friday, September 16, 2005

Update

Packing my stuff - to leave behind, to carry back home and bring back again - takes a few hours. As I'm sorting through stuff and trying to fit it into bags, I'm suddenly tired. I feel as though I've been packing all my life, all my life, packing, packing, fitting things into bags, getting on trains and planes and buses and into cars, leaving. Suddenly, I can't face packing any more. Instead, I go downstairs and stand outside the hotel and look up into the night sky. No Mars, but some stars and a sickle moon and clear air flood my head with my earliest star-gazing memories - on trips and treks, sitting outside in the cold cold air and breathing in the calm fullness of the place.

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My Air India flight to Bombay via Paris takes off 1 whole hour late - apparently all systems at Newark have shut down. I imagine skynet or whatever it was in the Terminator movies, or the whole Matrix phenomenon. Machines taking over the planet and deciding to shut down un unison. Incoming flights frozen in the void, temporarily bullied out of existence by Newark's IT failure... else reduced to circling the airport endlessly.

By the time we lift off, passengers' stomachs are growling so loudly that they could be doing sound effects for a whole other airplane. To prevent us from eating them, the crew hastily throws packets of chips at us. As they put dinner together, the smell of fragrantly spiced mutton curry almost drives me crazy.

After dinner, I try to sleep. But a stewardess has other ideas. Each time I start nodding off, she jumps to my window and snaps the shade shut. The sound wakes me. I open the shade again, send unpleasant thoughts and quelling looks-that-kill in her direction and try to drift off into dreamland again. (Repeat from beginning of paragraph for 4 hours to understand the true meaning of endless night.)

We're flying into daylight and into timezones ahead of ours, so dinner, breakfast and lunch all take place in the span of 9 hours. Part of the time, I read Tears of the Giraffe - the second book in Alexander McCall Smith's "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series - set in Botswana, and highly recommended. But mostly, I'm just jumping in my seat with anticipation, can't wait to land in Bombay.

And when we finally do, I can see rain beating against the sides of the plane, and I think, "shit." So much for the anticipation, the anxiousness to be back.

Immigration, baggage claim, and out the door. The humidity hits me like a solid wall. The rain is a snivelling drizzle - the type I hate most. A is nowhere to be seen (turns out later he's waiting at the wrong terminal). I've lost my phone and can't call or message. Welcome home.

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After a warm, cozy weekend, I leave Bombay on a sticky grey Monday morning. A sees me off at the airport and a grey sheen hangs over the city and our goodbye. My flight breaks through the cloud cover and Bombay suddenly vanishes, just like that. No long last looks over one's shoulder. Perhaps that's as it should be.

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Bangalore sucks.

12 comments:

maverick said...

hahaha...agree with the last liner!!

Anonymous said...

G: no more cosmic thoughts, ok? instead, cosmic thoughts! come to the mountains! how many times will i have to tell you this? huh? come to the mountains. G.

progga said...

Come to the mountains can become the new-age rallying cry - like "go to the mattresses". G, I bet you have no idea what I'm talking about. Sometimes I wonder whether I have any idea what I'm talking about.
The mountains won't happen this year, though I hear them calling. My love to T-nath and C. Go tell it on the mountain that I will come back soon.

Maverick, email me your phone number, let's catch up while we're both here.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, did I spot a note of nostalgia for the BBay lifestyle? Talk about being subtle about your feelings for B'lore....

progga said...

Y'know, Anon, I used to live in Bangalore before, and I loved it. Then I moved away, and came back 4 years later... and I found they've turned the city into a neat little hell-hole. I love the way it used to be. I hate the way it is now.

Ph said...

I agree that they have made the city into a hell hole. But its Bangalore. And I love it.

shakey said...

yeah, ph. i get that.
progs, you're back? how come? and 'bangalore sucks'- oh, dont be so cruel

Itineranting said...

Long last looks never help bebbe..so its just as well that there were none..

progga said...

Back temporarily, shakey. visa-stamping, etc. and tying up some loose ends.
Ph, I know what you mean... let's just leave it at that!

A Cynic in Wonderland said...

Ah back into deshland? Thot u had moved to amrika for good. How u been?

progga said...

Back for visa stamping.
And "for good" is such a strong statement... let's leave it as "for now".

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