I’ve been living in Denmark for the last year and a half. Coming from India, it has been a wonderful yet quite an intriguing experience to live far away from home for this long. And, now, after a year and a half, I went home.
You know, they say that every country has a smell. A smell different from every other and it hits you when you land. I remembered that when I boarded the plane from Kastrup, Copenhagen. The first half of the trip took me to Dubai in 6 hours. Starting in the afternoon at around 2 PM from Copenhagen. I lazily switched movies on the entertainment console between the small bouts of eating food and drinking water while the air hostesses bustled around. Surprisingly, Emirates, the service I was flying in, had quite a good music collection. I switched over to the music on the journey from Dubai to Chennai. Mozart played as I slept the second half of the way over.
Chennai International Airport, India
The smell of India, was more than anything, musty, moisture-laden, dank. It felt heavy. I meandered through the corridors thumbing my passport, the ticket and some small stubs of paper for the customs and clearance from Ebola. The first step was the station for disease control; Ebola to be specific. Moving through the haphazardly placed immigration clearance systems, I felt truly home. There was no structure to anything. I waited nearly an hour for my checked-in bags to clear the conveyor. When I walked out, it was warm. And I was home.
It was not quite the time for me reel back in horror. That hit me when I was in the traffic. Nestled in the car, it still felt quite different after a year. It was chaos in a way. But it felt good to be back in the middle of it all.
The thing is…
After a year, it felt quite thrilling to be back home. When you are away for a year, you forget the little things that seemed so insignificant when you were actually home. Now, being there for a week. All those previously insignificant things were thousand times more significant. I loved those things. The small things I just can’t remember because they were so numerous yet made me smile when I walked on the road. I loved those moments. Yet, the only things that I did was sleep, and eat. With mom cooking, it was splendid to eat home-cooked food. And for a week, computer was rarely touched; except for the time I spent rooting my Android to make it better. And I’ve got to go on about the food because I love food. I love eating good food and like everyone in the world who considers their mom to be the best chef, I consider my mom to be the best chef. And the trip was exactly that, eating tons of good food. I did become heavier by a couple of kilograms as I put on extra love from mom. But the best thing that happened was the little kid.
My niece turned 1 couple of days after I landed. It was so interesting and lovely seeing her crawl around, play, trying to speak, cry and gesture at things. I’ve not been around very young kids that much and neither have I spent a lot of time around one. Me being a kid, myself, does not however count. The curiosity she had of the world, that energy to just crawl around and point at stuff. It was endearing. She looked like quite a genius putting two and two together. It was a joy in itself to watch her smile for the smallest things in life. Getting the football, she had a smile on her face. Getting her rhymes on the iPad; a smile. Getting a taste of some spicy snack; a smile on her face. It was a joy. I can’t help but think of a quote by Sir David Attenborough, when asked about his most favorite animal by Neil DeGrasse Tyson on his radio show. That show is amazing and that exact episode is worth listening to and this quote really got my attention and I’ll paraphrase his quote,
The animal that makes me stop and brings a smile on my face every time is a 6-month old human baby.
Sheer absurdity of it all
It was a meaningful week home. I felt refreshed. I felt energized. The best thing was the final day in India. I went to a temple, ate some street food and even emptied a lot of snacks into my cavernous and hungry stomach. Yet, the sheer feeling of being in India hit me when I was in the car again going to the airport around midnight. We turned on the road to go the other way and saw our way blocked by a bus inching forward towards us on the wrong side of the road. The driver braked and one guy came running towards our car from the bus. It was a public transport bus. He stopped at the driver’s window and said in a dead-pan voice:
Boss, the reverse gear in the bus is broken. We’ve been slithering all through the small roads to get here. Could you please back out so that we can go to the bus depot?
I guffawed when I heard it. That was truly the feeling of being back in India. The sheer absurdity of it all transpiring right in front. Yet, I felt slightly more proud of my country as I boarded my plane. I saw the small things that I never thought I’ll miss, yet found myself missing them. That made it endearing. You could say that I fell in love with the country, again.