Thursday, February 12, 2009

Solo on the road...Jan 26th!

So I land in Mumbai at midnight on 25th. And by the time I get out of the airport, its 1:30 AM. The bride's parents have come to receive me and I feel guilty about messing up their sleep, when there are only a few days left to the wedding. I am told that R and the boys, and my sister who had also flown down, have already left for Pune that morning. Our plan is to go back home, catch a few hours of sleep. Come early morning, around 7 AM, I could be on the road too and reunite with my family. It was perfectly thought out. Only, after all the action I had seen, I could barely sleep those few hours, coupled with the jetlag. So I lay in bed watching the curtains blow gently in the motion of the fan. I mark the passage of every 1/2 hour by checking out the time on my walkman. Finally, its 6 AM, and there's not even a glint of dawn outside. Seems like daylight savings is on here too!

15 minutes later, the alarm rings and Aunty awakens. I am relieved from ending the pretense of sleep. I sit up in bed, looking and feeling fresh. She makes me a cup of coffee, while I go in and wake up my SIL. We chat for a little bit and they tell me what the boys were upto while they were there. Soon, I go in for a shower and by the time I am ready, the driver has come. I can barely contain my excitement. There are so many dimensions to my happiness. One, I couldn't wait to see the boys! Two, I couldn't wait to see my family. Three, I love the open road between Pune and Mumbai. Four, I would be able to catch a sunrise. So armed with all my enthusiasm, with the Canon in my hand, I bid gay farewells to this new family I am getting to know, for the next time I see them will be at the start of the festivities!

Its Republic Day and the roads are open and free. There are ample distances between the vehicles, and there is a light nip in the cool morning air, which awakens my senses even more keenly. This is my first sight of my country by early daylight. I am emotional about it. I am grateful to be here, all the more. The familiar and the not so familiar sounds of desh greet me at every corner of the road, and gladden my heart. From time to time, I see the flash of the tricolour, sold at every street corner.

Pretty soon, we have left behind the denser areas and are headed towards the highway. And I get a chance to view a Mumbai sunrise. The big round fiery ball from pictures of science appears to me now, in a clear arc of diffused glow. I love the feeling of having gained in on the day. An early start is always a cheerful prospect. I take out the camera and click. Ahead, the driver flashes me a curious look in the rearview mirror. I must seem soo.. touristy to him. I take out my walkman and plug my ears, adding some background music to the passing scenery...letting the mood flow to the tenor of the song I am listening to...sometimes full of beat and rhythm, pulsing with life...sometimes a tad wistful, ringing with nostalgia and bygone days, but everyone of them rich in meaning and implication. I cannot imagine a more perfect time or place than the here and the now!

Soon, we are on the Pune highway and the traffic has thinned out even more, and the driver steps on it. A part of me gets alarmed from time to time at the way he swerves the car in and out of lanes and gets ahead. But soon, I relax under the skilled navigation and go back to enjoying the passing countryside. From time to time, I slip from the spell of the moment and my thoughts drift to my family...imagining the face of each of them, anticipating the warmth of welcome. And I realise how woefully incomplete is a phone conversation. No, nothing could ever come close to breathing the same air, sharing in the same moments of a day, occupying spaces right alongside. Nothing can come close to this kind of personal contact, I realise with resolution.

The tunnels have begun to appear. And this particular one transports me back some 15 years ago, to a train journey from Chennai to Pune. There used to be a lot of tunnels in that segment. And in that beautiful monsoon of a time, me and Appu pressed our noses to the pane of a first class window, and counted each tunnel we crossed, gasping in awe at the marvellous spectacle when we emerged from each one! At the time, the count was 18. On this journey, it was a mere 4. But to make up for that fledgling number, I did manage to take a photograph to substantiate an oft used metaphor....the light at the end of the tunnel...Now I know why it is used so much. :)

Soon, I began to tire of my own enthusiasm and feel a wee bit carsick. I think I am ready to be done with travel. We are making good time and soon are in the outskirts of Pune. I can tell by the way the roads have narrowed and from the way the people are dressed. My heart races when I am on a familiar road....which I recognise even with all that has changed. We turn into the lane with the white picket fence, auto stand at the corner. My heart picks up a beat...and this is it. We are here. I am home. It is all I can do to wait patiently as the driver unloads my suitcase. He motions me to go ahead, thank the Lord. I race up the stairs and the screen door is shut. And just as I begin walking towards it, I see Pops' face peep out. A huge smile erupts as he exclaims to everyone else...she is here!

I walk in to warm smiles and Thambi's puzzled face. He looks at me dazedly for a long time. Then, slowly he comes into my arms and puts his head on my shoulder. I am definitely home.

22 comments:

Rohini said... Best Blogger Tips

Phew! I was at the edge of my set for this whole story! Glad it all worked out in the end :-)

Poppy said... Best Blogger Tips

Yay first to comment.! Have been eagerly awaiting the homecoming :)

Nino's Mum said... Best Blogger Tips

*sniff*.
My heart and head is made of much less sterner stuff than yours - and I've marvelled over these three days about this ability of yours to 'see the light at the end of the tunnel'. I almost saw you hug and kiss Thambi and Winkie for three days worth and more.

Kodi's Mom said... Best Blogger Tips

awww!

Sri said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Tharini

Just finished reading the 3 posts describing all that u went thru to reach India...it must have been so difficult..the support of the officials at the Consulate must be appreciated..

Glad that u were finally able to reach ur family..

Sri

Tharini said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks Ro! :)

Poppy....aww, too bad I didn't publish your comment first! :)

Nino's Mum : As always....flooo.oooored by your comment. Thanks hon!

KM : awwww indeed. For 10 minutes later, he had taken to loud wailing and tantrums, with a very moody Winkie not to be left too far behind!

Sri : Thank you so much. It feels alsmot shameful for me to allude to any difficulties given how perfectly everything else went off. Thank you. :)

choxbox said... Best Blogger Tips

Yay to that!

Dee said... Best Blogger Tips

awwww....you manage to make me all misty eyed in most of your posts ;)...what a happy ending!

Reva said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful T,

All the 3 posts were gripping reads... and I can see how this story is going to be said and re-said in the family in future. :)
Am so glad that things turned out great in the end (they always do na?!)

Do post some pics of all of u in ur wedding finery!

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said... Best Blogger Tips

The feeling of reaching home is captured so beautifully !! I almost reached home and met my parents ... as I was reading your post, (in my imagination)
You have a lovely writing style ... you connect instantly with the reader :)

Shobana said... Best Blogger Tips

And finally the lady makes it home. Phew! So happy that everything worked out well.

Piper .. said... Best Blogger Tips

wow! all`s well that ends well! :) what an adventure you had!
Happy Valentine`s Day Tharini! Hugs to the lil ones.

Tharini said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks Chox and Dee. :)

Reva...working on the pics slowly. Too many to sort thru. Will do so soon. :) Btw, you're real close now, aren't you?

CA : Awww. You truly made my day! truly! Thank you.

Shobana : Thanks yaar! :)

Piper : Happy day of love to you too dear Piper! :)

lilfern said... Best Blogger Tips

gripping narrative! so nice that it all worked out! how were the boys the two days that you were away from them?

Sujatha said... Best Blogger Tips

Have been seeing little snippets in my snapshots thinggie and wanted to read when the entire story was up. Whattastory T! The stuff of life in all its frustration and glory. Good for you and R and the kids. You went with the flow. Cheers!

Tharini said... Best Blogger Tips

Lifern : They were pretty amazing actually. I could tell that they had missed me, esp. Winkie from his more difficult behavior once I arrived, but till that point, they were very okay and happy enough!

Suj : The stuff of life, it truly was! Thank you Suj. :)

Mama - Mia said... Best Blogger Tips

awwww! i am lamost bawling like a baby reading this! :) god bless!

abha

Ardra said... Best Blogger Tips

Tears...of Happiness and relief...
felt like we were there just by you , near you, beside you...though in revisited moments...

Tina said... Best Blogger Tips

'Alls well that ends well'....

Great that everything turned out fine.

Good to see some pixs from mumbai -pune :)

Nice to know you visited pune...

From another Punekar who is not in Pune.

NC said... Best Blogger Tips

*sniff*
Aww to Thambi hugging you. It just made me melt.

DotThoughts said... Best Blogger Tips

lovely lovely post. You have a great way of trasnposrting the reader, Tara!

Fred Smilek said... Best Blogger Tips

wow...great story. Glad it all worked out in the end.

Fred Smilek is the acting president of the Society to Save Endangered Species. It was founded two years ago by Fred Smilek along with his two best friends Charles and Jonathan. http://www.fredjsmilek.com

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