Going Backwards

Chennai, India
December 2012

I’m all about change—I thrive on it. I’ve grown up all across India, moving every two years and attending six different schools. This way of life continued right into my adulthood, which has seen me living in four countries and spending weeks and months at a time in eight others. It’s an adventure, and it certainly beats doing the-same-thing-every-other-day-for-the-rest-of-my-life.

Except at times like these, when I find myself exhausted, in a city that isn’t home, after spending a bed-ridden week in a hospital recovering from a nasty disease.

And so, I’m going back. Back to Chennai, the city where I’ve spent ten long, albeit non-consecutive, years of my life. Back to the ancient house where I’ve been 5, 15, and 21. The same old streets that I can walk blindfolded. The large playground overlooked by our house, which gets immensely crowded on the weekends. Cricket balls will fly into our compound, my dogs will bark and my grandfather will yell at the teenagers. The same tiny ice cream parlour around the corner, the same ‘beauty parlour’ where I get my eyebrows to look somewhat presentable. The familiar smell of overripe mangoes in the summer. The same old routes for evening walks, in one of the many parks of Anna Nagar. Sathyam Cinemas and the popcorn that always (thankfully) tastes the same. My usual bewilderment at the sight of people wearing sweaters in 25-degree ‘Chennai winters’. Same old rickety share-autos. Same old pubs, same old Ladies’ Nights.

The same old people, who have always been there.

Sometimes, ‘same old, same old’ is the best thing about life. And coming back to a place—even if only temporarily—where time seems to have stood still is what restores my sanity.

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