Tuesday, November 02, 2010

21 days in India!

After roughly 14 months on foreign soil, when I decided to go back to India for a three week vacation, I was filled with a sense of anticipation and excitement. Anticipation because I was to meet a few people whom I was in touch with over the year; excitement at the thought of being able to savor the sights, sounds and more importantly the flavors of India once again. I was seriously longing for the roadside 'phuchka', the 'Chicken Roll', the 'Ilish Paturi' and countless other dishes.

My trip happened at the height of the monsoon season in India. As my Lufthansa flight glided down after a long 17 hour journey on the tarmac of the Mumbai airport, I couldn't wait to go out and breathe the moisture laden air. My Dad had come to pick me up at the airport. It was around 1:30 AM in the morning. It was drizzling lightly and by the time I reached home, I just couldn't seem to get enough of the Mumbai monsoons. And Mumbai didn't disappoint me at all. The next day, I checked out the spanking new Bandra-Worli sea link which is, I am sorry to say, a major letdown. Notwithstanding the engineering marvel, it's disappointing because you can hardly see Mumbai's skyline while driving down on it. Next stops were the Mahalaxmi and Siddhivinayak temples. My roller coaster ride in India had just begun.

Over the next weekend, we drove to Pune. We had to drive through almost pouring rain. At some points on the Ghats, we could hardly see what's ahead of our car. Nevertheless, the journey was enjoyable. The entire stretch of the expressway from Panvel upto Talegaon was lush green, numerous small waterfalls sprung out of nowhere, people had stopped their vehicles and were enjoying a quick shower under them. That must have been fun. After a brief stop over in Pune, which involved some official work, a jaunt to our office @ Hinjewadi, buying fish from Sus Road and a sumptuous Maharashtrian lunch at Naivedyam on Karve Road, we left for Mumbai around 3 PM and were back home by around 7:30 PM.

On Monday, 26th July, I, for the second time in my life went under the surgeon's scalpel. The first one had been when I was 8 years old and that was to make me 'Jewish' ;-). I had no clue at that time what that meant. If I had known, I probably wouldn't have gone for it. Anyway, this time around, the decision was purely voluntary. After a tedious 8 hour operation, I finally got back home.

The next two days were anything but comfortable. While I was confined to home, because of the pouring Mumbai rains outside, the surgery itself left me a little numb and uncomfortable. However, I had already booked tickets for my next stop which was the city of my origin - Calcutta.

Calcutta - the city is not really one of my favorites when it comes to living there. However, it never fails to amaze me. I was supposed to spend 4 days in Calcutta, with a one day lay over at Midnapore, which is my 'Mamar bari'. But I had to extend my stay by one more day because my visit wouldn't have been complete if I hadn't met all of my countless relatives and attended the grand luncheons and dinners organized in honour of the 'NRI'. :P Anyway, my visit to Kolkata was spent in the company of my relatives and indulging in gastronomic delights. Bhajahari Manna @ Hindustan Road, Kwality @ Park Street, Marco Polo on Sarat Bose Road - these are some of the places we had food. The food, kya kehna! :-) Lajawaab. Apart from these rather fancy places, I also gorged on Phuchka and Chicken Roll. Calcutta's roadside food is sheer bliss. It does away with your hunger but more than that, it also fulfills your soul. :-)

I met one guy in Calcutta with whom I had been chatting since September 2009. Let's call him 'S'. I met 'S' at Dumdum Metro station and we took a cab ride from there to Esplanade. We sat for a while at Blue and Beyond opposite the famous Hogg's Market or New Market in colloquial terms. It was drizzling lightly. The guy is perhaps one of the very few guys in Calcutta, I have actually met and liked. We drank a few beers and talked about the gay scene in Calcutta which according to him left much to be desired. I told him about the scene in Denver / US and he seemed totally excited listening to it. It was an evening well spent.

Next evening, I took the flight back to Mumbai.

On 2nd August, I finally left for Pune where my friends were eagerly expecting me. I landed up in Pune pretty late in the evening around 8 PM. Initially, I put up at this friend's place at Wakad. I have a history with this guy, which made living over at his place a little weird, especially when I came to know that he had a 'boyfriend' even though he never acknowledged that. What made me even more uncomfortable was that he had been flirting with me throughout the past one year. Moreover, his place was light years away from the actual Pune city where all the action was. On 3rd August, I made a trip to office once again, this time to catch up with my team mates. That day, well spent, I moved to a hotel on Ghole Road in Deccan on 4th August afternoon.

Over the next three days, I met a four more guys from Pune with whom I had been in touch through the past one year. It was nice meeting them. I also caught up with my old buddies from work, some old chums who were among my very first friends in Pune. As for sex, it happened with some of them and it was great! My 'dry' spell of the preceding 9 months had been broken. :-) Since, my birthday was round the corner, I called few of my very close friends to a dinner at the hotel where I was put up. We had a great dinner. I was supposed to leave Pune for Mumbai on 7th but decided to postpone by one day. As for how I ushered in my birthday on 8th, it was quite a lonely night, with me alone in the hotel. The only silver lining was that I probably became a little mature by realizing that it's not always what it seems and we have to be utterly careful when it comes to dealing with matters of the heart. Hopefully, this lesson will remain with me for a long time to come and stop me from committing the same mistakes all over again!

I returned to Mumbai on 8th evening. My flight back to Denver was on 9th August post midnight. The 9th was spent packing my stuff and getting everything in place. At 11:30 at night, my folks dropped me off at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and I bid them farewell for now. As I waited in the lounge for the flight to take off after all the formalities, the entire vacation flashed before my eyes. It was indeed a great trip. It made me happy, it made me sad, it gave me everlasting memories and some which I wish I could forget. But, I guess, that's what my life has always been all about. A little of this, a little of that! That's what makes me so FA-BU-LOUS.

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