I am back in India again. It took me some time to finally plan this trip right for work and I thought that it would be easy. And I was partly right. The mechanics of it was easy - book tickets, pack, get myself to the airport, clear security, board, fly, land, collect luggage and walk out. Ha!!
Now comes the hard part. In the 2 years that I had spend adapting to my life in California, I seem to have unlearned every skill that I acquired being a Malayali in cochin.
When I lived in God's own country, I could cross a busy road with ease. I could drive like a maniac - squeezing my scooty pep between Innovas and auto rickshaws. I could stand in a crowded bus perfectly balanced on my legs without holding on to the railings as the bus sped at 60Km per hr swaying this way and that!
Now, i wait forever to get a big enough gap to cross the road - the other day I met Suman for lunch and she got so exasperated waiting for me to cross the road that she yanked my arm and walked across the road - all I could do was close my eyes and let her lead the way!
I flinch everytime some one honks or comes too close to the car my Dad drives - i bet it drives him crazy to see me be on the edge when we are out :-)
And now I am also intimidated by auto drivers - there was this one time i was going back to my office and my directions got the auto rickshaw driver lost. I was desperate to get to the right location and I confused him with my own mix of Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam and English. The poor auto rickshaw man pulled over and said
"Maam, I am auto rickshaw driver for 20 years.. I never lost.. this first time.. why maam!! enna kodumai!!"
I was speechless! I ruined the poor man's reputation.
But he was even more stunned that his outburst hadn't earned him an earful. I guess I lost my knack to converse or rather argue with auto rickshaw drivers. I kept quiet as he asked for directions and finally got me to my office. He looked worried and didnt even let me pay the amount he had originally asked for.
It has been two weeks now and I am a bit better at this. I went shopping on my own. Though I didnt buy anything, I am glad that I went out and walked the streets just for the fun of it.
I even stopped at the man on the street with the little cart who was selling warm corn with pepper and lime. I took some back to my room - savoring each spoonful of the deliciousness..
Atleast these are some things that have not changed.. I still love street food.. I still love Indian rains.. I love my home, family & friends and these will never change.