Finding home

Lately the walks have been fewer and the ones I do end up carving out of my day have been under old trees. It is a relief after long work days. After a fair bit, I walked on city streets that were bustling with human activity, in a place where I lived in transit for over 2 decades.

But before that there was a long, happy drive on a highway. Those lanes are still not as busy as they were pre-pandemic and it was a pleasure to really zip past a lush and vibrant landscape. Windows down, happy music and the wind on my face. At one time, it was wind in my hair and it struck me that I’ve had short hair, really long hair, really short hair and then this bald pate. Every decade, a different way to wear my hair and the common thread has been convenience.

When the coffee mug met the mask

The drive was pleasant and the city traffic was light. So, I stopped by Amma’s place and had coffee with her. It was a surprise for her and both of us were happy. She’s quite old so it was socially distanced but seeing her felt good. I got chided for the baldness but it’s Amma and she’s always allowed to scold. Another hour or so later and I came to my mother’s house. It is not the same without her and there’s an ache at her not coming back to her home. There was nothing else to do so I went out for a walk on streets I haunted as a teenager. I walked past Sunset salon where I had a haircut the last time I was here (it was an interesting experience), down the pani puri wala’s spot, lukka corner, the lane with fading buildings of the quaint names that await redevelopment, an open-air boxing club at YMCA and back home.

A

A few of those old structures have already been replaced by swanky looking new ones and the character of the entire place is changing. Saving these few images here of a time that will soon be erased like the lives it contained. It began a while back as reclaimed land gave rise to tall buildings .Were we meant to live so high up in the air?

I.C. Colony was predominantly a Catholic neighbourhood but there was a largish community of Malayali Syrian Christians too. The community was small and one knew everyone. It also meant a robust gossip culture but that has also withered. Bombay was both home and not home simultaneously. There was always a wanting to get away and the inevitability of coming back to the claustrophobia of cramped spaces. I passed BEST buses packed with damp bodies, trucks with men sprawled over sacks, limbs over sweaty limbs and vacant stares. I remembered local trains where I’d shrink into myself pretending there was an invisible bubble that shielded me from other bodies. It helped to be a whole head taller than the rest. Despite the discomfort, there was also a fondness of familiarity. Years later, it is nostalgia which washes all memories with softer hues. Maybe these are the last few trips to this city, there is very little left to bring me back.

Tomorrow, a sleepy little village by a river beckons. That’s a piece of land where my skin smiles and the heart sings. Maybe it is time to call that ocean kissed place – home.

3 thoughts on “Finding home

  1. In my native too the old generation staying in their old houses are gradually giving way to younger generation staying in new badly constructed apartments.
    It’s lucky to be able to settle down in a place of dreams .. a place by the ocean sounds so lovely.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Contemplating a move? It sounds magical… I grew up in a small town, and have always unconsciously tried to carve out a small-town size community for myself within the surrounding urban reality…

    Liked by 1 person

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