July 10, 2006

Day One

Expectations - a million different things have been said about them and even then I am not sure if we have said enough yet. I had built this trip up on so many different things and so many different levels and now that it has finally begun it certainly does not feel like much. How funny it is that I expected it to radically change things for me in more than one way and now I sit here, in the same house where I’d lived for 21 years, watching the World Cup final and writing on my laptop as if this was the way it has always been.

Everyone told me the city had changed so dramatically that I would not be able to recognize it. But, other than marginally wider roads, a lot more of mid-sized shops and a lot of IT-fuelled new money, there is not a lot that I have not seen before. On my way home from the airport and the subsequent outing later in the day, I could still see a lot of the same old shops I used to frequent. Yes, they are a lot spiffier now, but spiffy does not necessarily equate to new and I have not been to any of the famed ‘malls’ and I am not sure if I’d seen any in the first place.

But the air here is awesome. It is only when you come to a place like this you realize that respiration, in a place like Delhi, is a distinctly masochistic experience, where you learn to get used to the slow suffocation that is passed off for breathing and make it a part of your life. The traffic is also considerably lovelier and it does feel somewhat like driving around in your living room. Though, after the average 70 kilometer per hour insanity called driving in Delhi, life behind the wheel here certainly does have a slow motion-like quality to it.

The first thing I did after coming home (interestingly, after jumping over the compound wall) was to run around like a happy puppy going into all the rooms, followed by the backside of the kitchen and the terrace. And the funny thing, you know, in everything I’ve seen here again – roads, places and the house – is that they all look smaller to me. I do not know what to make of it, I am sure there are more than a couple of interesting explanations for it, but it certainly does feel like a small pond. I have always known it was a small town, but now it looks scaled down by a factor of one. Weird.