I am just back from a week-long visit to my hometown, to the husband’s town, to grandparent’s town and back. It’s a mixed bag of emotions to be in the home region, which includes a couple of different places in southern Maharashtra. The excitement and anticipation turns into actual fun and enjoyment and gluttony, then transitions into gathering stuff to bring back, and then ends with a sad, depressed state of mind that wont quit until a few days after being back to the daily grind.
But every visit is worth noting down for different observations and events, which range from mundane to peculiar to hilarious.
We started our holiday with a visit to the grandparents. This was our first visit as a couple after 4 years of being married. It feels nice to tick this off the list. As usual, the granny dear went overboard with the food preparations, which explains why the food coma lasted a day and a half. Could have lasted even longer, but had to force ourselves out of it to go into another one with mom’s food. The grandma is quite the story teller, and had she been a keen writer, would have fit into the creme de la creme of the writers that represent magic-realism. It’s a pity that my snooty, urban self saw this too late while pretending to be uber cool and talking authoritatively about Garcia Marquez and simultaneously dissing home-grown stories for being too illogical. My loss, really. Anyway, this time, I forced my sense of logic to get lost and coaxed granny to tell us her stories. She regaled us with insanely interesting stories of sexcapades and intrigues from her childhood. Bless her. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet my grandma who asked me what birth control we used…
Home was essentially relegating self to a 25 ft radius, showering once in three days, and repeating the cycle of eating and sleeping. Mom was already sent a combined list of what the little sis and I wanted to eat the most. But the number of days we had were far fewer than the number of dishes we wanted to eat. So we simply had to eat back-to-back lunches on a couple of days. That should explain the stomach cramps and nausea I have had since returning.
Husband and the sister’s husband were around on our last day home. The evening was spent playing poker, drinking whisky, forcing the mother into drinking some old wine because she simply wouldn’t drink anything else. It was quite an adventure to smoke with the mother present in the house. But I must admit, this has become some sort of a ritual. Like an old lady, I was fast asleep at 12, but the husband and brother-in-law apparently chatted till 2.
There’s a hill station close to both the husband’s and my hometown. That’s an invariable part of our itinerary every time we go home. We spent two days here: The parents, we sisters with our husbands and my husband’s family. The rains had turned the little town/village into a green paradise. We could see clouds floating about and wind making music while passing through the wise banyan trees. All this while downing endless cups of chai.
I also made an exception to my otherwise vegetarian lifestyle and had some steaming hot mutton rassa here. We also initiated the parents into dumb charades. The moms got the game immediately, but the dads sort of ruined it for all. We also celebrated dad’s birthday here with the carrot cake that the sis and her husband baked back home with a lot of difficulty: Forgetting to preheat the oven, the electricity going off after baking for 10 minutes, shifting the cake to a cooker to prevent it from going flat, re-shifting it to the cold oven after the electricity was back, forgetting the timer and letting the cake stay in the oven for a minute longer than desirable. The end result was incredible against all odds though, so no one’s complaining.
Also, this little place has an insanely beautiful, but slightly eerie characteristic to it. Like a sense of foreboding, especially in the evenings. It’s not very densely populated, and gets rather quiet at night and there are barely any streetlights. The place where we stay is a massive bungalow with huge and disconnected rooms. We generally take a walk at night for a cigarette, because, well mothers. And everything ALWAYS looks slightly creepy, dramatically so, almost. Straight out of a Ramsay movie. Exaggerated wind sound, darkness everywhere with a cat meowing somewhere in the distance, the odd, sole street light flickering, fog everywhere, such that the person (from your own group) walking just a little in front of you might seem like an apparition. You get the drift…Add to that the history of several such trips with aunts with a crazy love for horror movies and who totally target the nieces. On one such occasion, one of the three favorite aunts was walking ahead and asked in a deep, creepy voice, “What if I turn around, and my feet haven’t turned with me?” All my logic and rationality go for a toss when the ambiance is such. And this is exactly what I remember on a similar night like that, about 7-8 years later. So with this background, we start walking into the dark, slightly away from the bungalow. We aren’t very far. No one from there can see us, but we can still see the bungalow. And then we pass by a car randomly parked in the middle of nowhere. Trust me, on a dark, rainy night, nobody with non-evil intentions would park their car there. Anyway, I HAD to look inside, and I see a cat inside the lone car. It’s sitting right behind the back glass where people usually keep pillows and random soft toys and stuff. I tell it to the sis, the husband and the bro-in-law. They dismiss me for being too paranoid and humor me by saying we wont go very far. So we go just a few steps ahead. I barely enjoy the cigarette because my heart is pounding. And then we start walking back. We pass the car again, and this time we all see the cat move its neck. Now, I almost run. The others act chilled out, because frankly, neither of us believes in spirits and ghastly cats and stuff. But still. And that’s that.
Husband’s home turf
On the last day before the vacation ends, we head back to the husband’s town, which is hardly 25 kms from the neutral destination above. Surprisingly, parents agree to stay back until early evening. So we all have lunch together, sleep, wake up, I bawl my eyes out to see the parents leave, they console me, I am consoled and we say our good byes.
Then father-in-law opens a bottle of whisky he had specially waited to open for us. Unfortunately, my stomach had already started acting up so I missed out on that part. I otherwise really enjoy drinking with him because he is a very seasoned journalist from the region and usually has tons of interesting stories to tell. He told us of the time he interviewed Indira Gandhi when he was all of 25. Man! I still tied my shoe laces the wrong way when I was that age. Anyway, the fun stories start coming out one after the other and the husband convinces him to make those into this next book project.
Then we watch news for a while. Local news back home is also way more interesting and unique. I especially enjoy the news of the deer that does the “Pandharichi VariPandharichi Vari” every year. I instantly become a fan of the deer as well as the story, knowing fully well that it certainly didn’t go out of devotion. I tried to rationalize it by saying that perhaps it met a lovely person who fed it the first time, so it followed the person. And perhaps goes every year to look for that person. But who knows, may be I am foolishly rationalizing, where it actually IS a devotee 😉
And thus ends my week at home and around and here I am back to the daily grind. But I am not complaining because I have stories to tell.