Yup! I am back in Mumbai.... and it feels goooooood! I left my daughter's tiny flat in the 15th arrondisement at 4.30a.m. It was -8 degrees. My brain was frozen. So was my heart - but that had nothing to do with the cold. I was leaving my tiny sparrow alone in her nest, and it was hard. Very hard. My husband sitting in Mumbai was tracking my progress diligently. Did the cab arrive on time? Had I checked in without any problem( Paris check-ins are the WORST!). Was the flight to Zurich delayed or on schedule?? I was flying SWISS after decades. I am happy to report it was a very pleasant experience, barring what is internationally known as the ' Hindu Meal'. Inedible is a polite word for it ( mine was boiled rice with boiled carrots and boiled beans). Why had I ordered it? Huge mistake.
So, this is what I did as soon as I arrived in Aamchi Mumbai - I drove straight to the amazing idli-dosa walla at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan near Chowpatty, and attacked the hing-heavy sambar. I knew I was home!
Frankly, I had deliberately disconnected from desi news, except for checking headlines sporadically on various sites. I had decided to switch off from my 'Mumbai self ' during those 10 days and give the daily information overload a rest. I wanted some much needed down time and am glad to report I got it. Yes, even in those freezing temperatures with our fingers turning purple each time we took off our gloves.
On my last night in Paris, Arundhati treated me to a fancy evening since she won't be here for my birthday. She'd already gifted me a flacon of 'Joy' by Jean Patou, a fragrance she associates with me and her childhood. So, the two of us set off happily enough, bundled up like eskimos in layers and layers of wool ( no Doodunes for either of us. I don't care how trendy they are this season, nor how warm they keep wearers, they are ungainly and ugly). First stop - 'Costes', second stop 'Cafe de l'Homme', third stop Trocadero. The gigantic, waning moon peeping over the Eiffel Tower looked unreal. But then, that's also the magic of Paris - nearly everything looks unreal - it is just too beautiful to be true.
Back in Mumbai, I looked affectionately at our far-from-perfect metropolis. Its shabbiness made it more endearing! Oh, the comfort of our desi chaos - how I love it!! Slimey baggage handlers sidling up for 'baksheesh' and offering to 'fix' things at customs ( I had nothing to declare but my genius!! Ha ha!! Chill out, it's a joke, and a take- off on the original ). Noisy relatives outside the terminal creating a familiar din - there was the usual over-loud haggling and deal making with crooked taxiwallas in high pitched, raised voices, as impatient maasis and chachas, spat randomely, while nonchalantly chucking plastic water bottles and other rubbish all over the place. Good old India. Nothing ever changes here. That is its charm.... and curse!