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Dahi Wada

A conversation takes me back to six years ago. Another little room, another tiny kitchen. Another programme that was very demanding. A different set of essays but the same pressure. The wonder of finding new things, of seeing the world with fresh eyes, the possibility of an adventure. And in the midst of this, the memory of a dahi wada, made six years ago is stirred. An impromptu party, goodies made with love and jugaad.

So many ways to feel far away, so many things to crave, so many memories for comfort. So many reasons to miss you.

 

Beginnings and Ends

It’s not always black and white, nor is it ever happy and sad. We can’t say beginnings are always a good thing, or the end is always sad. Sometimes, like today, they overlap. New Year’s Day (in many parts of India) coincides with the last teaching class of my Master’s programme in Edinburgh, stirring conflicting feelings.

The ‘hellos’ will soon be goodbyes

The new will become a memory

This city won’t be my home anymore.

The adventure will continue.

The joy of a festival, the melancholia of a finish.

Lunch in the Park

It’s the small things that make you smile.

A quick exchange of messages with a loved one. A chance encounter with someone you admire. A book that you didn’t know you needed, a song that is just right for you. A seat near both the window and the radiator, but out of the sun’s glare.

A friend to giggle with.

A friend to share your misery.

A friend to go to the park with, on a sunny day and eat a lovely wood-fired oven pizza.

It’s always the small things that make you smile.

Is it true that the older you grow, the more you hold on to the memories of the past? To songs, people, food, books? To places?

Is there something about rushing headlong into the future that makes you want to sit down and immerse yourself in the past?

Do you want to stop working on pressing deadlines and seek music from nearly 25 years ago?

Do you mourn the loss of friends, family, simpler times?

What is it about facing the thirties that make you want to be 8, at Pirwadi, listening to Shahid Pervez again?

 

Photos in my Mind

That I can’t find a picture to post is terrible, but dear Chhoutu, I have you in my heart. I remember what a little bundle of joy you were, eyes bright, a tail that could wiggle off! I remember you growing up, but not realising how big you’d grown. I remember you racing down the slope to greet me, and how excitedly you’d jump into the car, always up for a ride. I remember celebrating your birthday, and I remember how you loved a bath. If I close my eyes, I can feel you here, right next to me.

Happy birthday, my dearest Chhoutumal, there may be no photos,  but you are in my heart.

Traditions

Traditions are like a thandai after a cricket match. A dip in the sea after a crazy morning of playing with colours. A lunch of potatoes, papad and rotis only the good guys at the staff canteen can make.

You can taste traditions, feel them inside you, even smell them. In a cold cafe on a (relatively) warm Scottish afternoon, I close my eyes and I’m back in Mora, celebrating holi.

 

Old Emails

I spend my days in the past, often from about three hundred years ago. Sometimes I accidentally find myself in the forgotten lanes of emails and chat transcripts, some over a decade old.

Faded friendships shine again.  Old stories are remembered. I see how much I’ve grown, and how much remains unchanged. Language, word choices, things that I once thought of as cool now appear juvenile and mostly cringeworthy.

Between the ‘I can’t believe I said that’ and the ‘what was I thinking (I wasn’t)’, lies the notebook I never wrote.