An Indian Finale

Friday 23rd April 15:01

I settled on ending my Indian journey with a weekend in Jaipur, a weekend in Varanassi and endless partying and chillaxing with my favourite peeps in between. India had other plans. I came quickly to the conclusion that I couldn’t leave without a proper goodbye. So I quit work last Wednesday and left a fortnight gap for anything and everything that constitutes a proper goodbye.

Tuesday night I took dinner in Machan with Ale. Wednesday was my final day in office so I ran around getting bureaucratic forms signed and pretending I would miss the monotony. Wednesday night was my last ladies night, so we hit UP and Capitol, me, Karol, Ira, Diana and Ale, with the usual antics. As India would have it, I developed a migraine the following day and fell ill for the rest of the week. Thursday, Friday and Saturday I was pretty much bed bound. Plans for Jaipur thwarted. I managed a film on Saturday with Kez, Mimi and Ale but by Saturday night I was worried and rushed a visit to Max Hospital. With a temperature of 101, the doctor gave me a jab that temporarily made things right and I left with a bag full of pills. The antibiotics and pain killers seemed to do the trick, though there were hell-raising moments when they wore off. The tests came back from the hospital all clear but they wouldn’t give me a clue what it might be; Typhoid, Heat Stroke? Anyway, I spent the week recovering and now I am back to full strength, if a little thinner for it. Not how I had the week planned, but then I couldn’t have flown home earlier even if I wanted with the polluted European airspace. Clearly, India has its own finale in store for me.

By Wednesday night I was on my last batch of antibiotics and fit enough for Ira Mam’s birthday dinner in Machan. Thursday Night we hosted “Farewell of the Century,” hiring out Cafe Morrison for an open bar night. Combined farewells for me, Ira, Mari and Karol with a few birthdays thrown into the mix. It made for one hell of a farewell party and we packed the place with friends of friends. This weekend was supposed to be Varanassi, but a few last minute dropouts prompted me to hop off the bandwagon. My last weekend in India, I would rather invest the time in the company of my closest of friends than a 15 hour train.

Monday 26th April 14:10

How time passes by when you least expect or desire it. An idle fortnight at Kapoors and I still haven’t come to terms with my leaving, I don’t quite believe it yet. At least, I have been striving to make the most of my last few days. Friday night Kez, Ale, Hafdis, Mimi and I went to Kuki for Arabian nights, followed by a short stint at a house party in Hauz Khas. Saturday I accompanied Kez and Mimi to Khan market in Delhi, stopping by Lodi Gardens for a little rest and relax in the evening. Gurgaon again for dinner before we took off with Ale and Hafdis to meet Ira and Mari in Three Floors. The club closed early so we finished the night chilling at Hex Tax. Sunday was more relaxed, a movie in Ambi and dinner at Mocha. Later in the evening an experimental electronic band did a live set with the IPL Cricket Final in the background. Kez, Mimi and I relaxed with a hookah enjoying the spirited vibe of chirpy Indians, live music and a cricket final. A long rickshaw ride home and a movie at Kapoors. Today I am beginning to think about washing and packing. Doesn’t seem real but I should get down to it, only two days remain!

Wednesday 28th April 12:31

Sitting in India Ghandi Airport, perhaps for the last time in a long while. Still refuse to believe I am leaving my home for the past nine months, I don’t suppose it will hit until the dreary welcoming of Heathrow Airport. Nine months can be a long time when you make yourself at home.

The finale continued Monday evening with a visit to Big Bazaar to buy food for my last family dinner at the Kapoors. I met Mimi in Ambi and in the midst the shopping hustle my flip flops broke and I was forced to walk the distance to the supermarket bare foot, quite the entertainment for the locals. Family dinner at home and a film in true Mimine Kapoor style. Yesterday began with an early wakeup call and a cab into Delhi with Mari and Ira. Ira dropped into a visa centre while I took a coffee with Mari. Then we headed to Janpath market to hunt out some last minute gifts. On the way to Dili Hut the driver tried to clock up some extra km by taking a long route, by which time we were sufficiently hot and tired to give up and turn back for Gurgaon. In this heat, it is difficult to tolerate such Indian frivolity. Back at Kapoors late afternoon, I made my last cash withdrawal and opted for an afternoon nap rather than to begin packing. An early rise and a morning in Delhi is enough to exhaust me.

I woke in time for the first visitor of my final gathering at the Kapoors as I bid my goodbyes and prepare for leaving. Enough people stopped by to remind me of how much | am leaving behind. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a true Indian finale without a bit of drama. Yasmine developed a sudden pain and was whisked of to Max hospital for a few hours, seems we have both served time in this place of late. Suffice to say she will be fine and was fit enough to accompany me to the airport this morning. Mimi helped wake me at 6:30AM to commence packing, I was never in the mood for it before. Goodbyes to Anna, Kez and Jacek on their way to work and a final Mazaar drink at the airport before checking in. It rained last night and this morning, first time in so many months. India is mourning for me.

Friday 30th April 11:25 BST

This quiet is erie, the sound of chirping birds and the wind in the trees. The sun is glaring through the French windows but the temperature is a chilly 16 versus 40. I am donning trousers and a jumper and my feet have never been so clean. I am back in Swanage, my home town and personal retreat when life necessitates such transitions. The flight was smooth, no volcanic dust or Indian delays. Jet Airways were satisfactory. The jet lag is not so bad and nothing tangible has changed. I recall the first sighting of mainland as we descended over the Thames estuary and London came into view. So starkly different from a landing in Delhi, beautiful crisp green and blue with organised little conurbations and tarmac roads. What a difference nine hours on a plane can make. This is not the real world, at least for billions of others. It’s barely real enough for me. A day and a half to unpack and unwind, already I am feeling restless and lost. My mind is relating to distant sounds; the sound of the water filter beeping, the pump in the back yard, the bell of rickshaws and the honk of cars. In India I felt alive. No regrets, timing was impeccable and there was never a debate about leaving Guragon. Yet the inevitable longing for noise and life and yearning for missed friends will haunt the ensuing weeks while I gather strength for the next step. And before I know it, I shall be back on that plane again headed for pastures new.

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