Journeys and memories…

Whew! We finally made it to the movie. Babysitter has settled in with Anji who happily said goodbye. Coming after a difficult lunchtime where my nearly 4-year old daughter Anjali (whom we fondly call Anji or gudiya) wouldn’t touch her pasta, a nice goodbye was a ‘thank God no tears!’ feeling. Driving as fast as Abhi possibly could, we reached the theater in just over 10 minutes from Lebanon to Hanover. We only missed the first preview of a movie with something ‘moonlight’ in the title and with Colin Firth in it. (I would like to see that one – even if I missed the preview!). I breathed a sigh – a deep sigh of relief – letting all the tension of the day melt away as I settled into my seat with Abhi next to me.

Movies usually begin with the name of studios involved, and this movie began with ‘Reliance’ on the screen. A deep sense of reminiscence came in. Just a few weeks ago, Abhi and I were sitting in the Red lounge in the cinemas in Mumbai reclining our comfy seats with samosas on the side, watching ‘Reliance’ on the screen. Hmmm…. Maybe this will be nice. I thought to myself, preparing for ‘the 100 foot journey’.

As you would have guessed, we ourselves are just over a week, back from ‘an 8000-mile journey’ – our travel to India for a month. Not on foot or motorbike or anything glamorous like that, but in style on Virgin Atlantic. With a lovely 3-day stopover at London to break the journey and one of the most memorable trips of my life to India, this vacation was special.

Anjali, our daughter, is nearly 4 and our journey was fantastic. This time was so much more enjoyable than when I think back to her being 9 months and nearly 2 (the most nightmarish age for travel!) on previous trips. Right now her age makes her a fun traveler. She was excited and curious about everything. She wore her own seatbelt and used the bathrooms before takeoffs and landings when explained as to why. She asked the flight crew herself that she would like apple juice with no ice. She saw Frozen about 10 times through all the plane rides, and she took out her little guys and played imaginary games with them in between. As long as I didn’t make any demands on her eating or sleeping, we were on a roll.

As for our time in India – there are no words. Maybe I can best explain it by coming back to the ‘100 foot journey’. In the last scene, decked in colorful clothes, the cast brought feasts of Indian food to sit together with friends and family. And then credits started rolling in – and with it, so did my tears. Maybe it was the memory of the taste of the warm parathas made by Lataji, or the grilled mint chutney sandwiches for afternoon snack or the delicious omelette cooked with cilantro leaves and onions diced into tiny pieces made by Priyankaji. Maybe the white of the large paneer pieces against the green of spinach in palak paneer or the black creaminess of dal makhani or the crunchy samosas with yummy filling. Feast – I certainly knew what that was. And with family and friends – maybe that’s why the food tasted so good. The warm embraces of unconditional acceptance and the sense of endless time. Like exactly the right amount of tea leaves, ginger and cardamom into making the perfect cuppa. In that instant time stopped. Maybe this is why vacations are special. And maybe this is what makes our hearts tender with the sweetness of the memories. And makes it hard to let go.

Anjali has already let go. She is totally present in the now – excited about art camp this morning and popcorn and lemonade and the bridge to white river junction. Maybe I will get there sometime soon…

May there be many such vacations – and may you have (had) exactly the vacation you need this summer.

With peace and gratitude, S.

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