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~The dread and pleasure of visiting India~

By: viratbond Posted Oct 14, 2010 Just me 853 Views
(Updated Oct 14, 2010 10:56 AM)


Well, most of you know that I’m coming to visit India this winter. My trip is confirmed and I will be landing in Mumbai.

MS has become a family to me and I am bubbling with excitement at finally getting a chance to meet my long lost Kumbh ke mele waale brothers and sisters. Hopefully, my physical presence can live up to my virtual one as a writer :) I am coming to India after three years. Seeing India firsthand once again fills me with pleasure and dread. I don’t think I have to explain the ‘pleasure’ but the dread is very much there. I’m dreading that I’ve gotten used to certain ‘luxuries’ as if to say. A simple thing like running water. I remember we used to only get hot water from 7am – 9am in the morning, so the whole family lined up to finish the toiletries. We had a geyser but that was no use because it never worked anyway. Good old ‘jugaad’ got the geyser working for a day or two but that was the maximum. We understood that it was not the geyser’s fault and moved on…

Here, tap water is safe for drinking and every other household chore. It was a bit odd at first, drinking and washing utensils from the same tap but it grew on us very soon. Every tap has a hot-cold option. It’s amazing how much space frees up in the refrigerator when there are no more water bottles to be kept. There’s always a park around with cricket nets and it has become a regular place for me and some of my friends who want to retain some of our “Indian ness”. I would try to convince you that our playing cricket has got nothing to do with being and acting “Indian” and that cricket was pretty much the only sport we were familiar with before we came here and really saw that the word ‘sport’ had a much broader application spectrum, but to each his own. I remember, I and my friends used to roam around in a pack, pretty much like wolves, one carrying a weathered ball – a cosco one, more likely, but if we were lucky, shining new leather cherry, someone else carried the stumps. We never had the complete ‘six pack’ that was customary, or may be we did and someone had just forgotten about two of them. I know for sure, there were only four stumps that we carried. I could never figure out why. May be because it was the norm, I guess. Nobody ‘ever’ had the complete six, or even if they did, they didn’t show off. Nobody challenged this dogma. There was always only one stump at the non-striker’s end and that’s how it remained. And while playing, everyone had a shy at that stump, thinking they were Jonty Rhodesor something, and they would alwaysmiss… always! Kind of makes the whole point of having a shy at the stumps pointless, doesn’t it? I carried the bat, my prized possession. Because it was given that whoever had the bat most definitelygot a chance to bat, because the bat was his and everybody else had to appease his ego to use the bat themselves! I never have been prouder of spending a fortune to get the then famous ‘Sunridges’ brand, with the ‘SS’ shining on the label.

And of course, nobody dived. Getting hit by the leather ball because we never had pads or gloves was okay, but not diving. The leather ball would leave a mark, a big blue one, and that was fine. However the coarse, hard ground was naughty. It would leave a hickey wherever it kissed our bodies. And from that hickey, blood poured like when an ice cream softie melts and drips all the way down the cone on a hot day. The ground was never kind to us, always up to mischief. I forget the number of times the ground raped us, leaving visible gashes on our limbs. That was bad, very bad. Our parents would see the gashes and scold us. I never could figure why they did that. After all, we were just playing. What was wrong in that? May be they didn’t like it when we got ‘rough’. Or may be they knew that we had figured out an excuse to not go to school the next day…

Now to the point – why am I telling you all this?After all, you live in India! The reason is I’m afraid of what I’ve become used to. For example – bargaining skills. Bargaining and threatening autorickshaw wallahs for the right fare, always keeping an eye open for my luggage in trains or even better, making sure the coolie never ran too fast so that I could keep track of him. I guess living in India gives you a certain level of ‘alertness’. I’ve relaxed a little since I’ve come here. These natural instincts, so to speak have gathered rust. May be it’s because I’ve started to trust people a lot more since I moved. That ‘keep an eye out’ attitude seems to have taken a backseat. But returning to India, means finding my natural instincts once again. I hope I can find that side before anything goes wrong. Because I may have somewhat changed, but in these matters,Indiasurely hasn’t!

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