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Goodbye, India. And Thank You!

“Promise me you’ll never forget me because if I thought you would, I’d never leave.”

― A.A. Milne

Welcome to India!

What on earth just happened??!

My head is still spinning.

Before I could say “boo”, my time here is up. Done. Gone. Finis.

Here’s the twist – with a couple of months still remaining on my commitment, I received a sweet offer (very sweet) to head back home and do my thing there instead.

Carpe diem (Sorry, I just watched that wonderful movie, Dead Poet’s Society).

Sieze the day! What else could I do?  What would you do?  When the choice is heading home or not, and it’s presented with a flourish of new incentives? Exactly.

It’s just that it was totally unexpected and sudden, and I was quite unprepared. In fact, I was under pressure to extend my commitment to stay on in Bombay (by a few years!), making me grapple with all that it means to do so.  I had finally come to terms with this, ready to compromise and lengthen my stay for the right ‘fine print’.

But as I went in to discuss the details, lo and behold, the situation got turned all upside down and topsy turvy!

Could I take on a totally different (and exciting, blah, blah, blah) assignment for the company… based over there?

Huh.

And, before I knew it,  just like that, it was over.

Things are happening so rapidly that I will be packing up and saying my goodbyes over the next couple of weeks. And then, it’ll be off and away for me. So quickly!

India

The time’s right to reflect a bit on my stay in India. Sadness is setting in. Because whatever good, bad or ugly I experienced here – only the good stands out for me now. [Aah, the mysterious workings of the human brain!]

I feel so lucky to have spent this time living and experiencing India – very different from a visit every now and then.

I feel so fortunate to have met all those wonderful people, many who have now turned into life long friends.

And I know that while I will still be racking up tons of frequent flier miles flying back and forth, it will never be quite the same as living here.

Mum-bai

And of the city that became my home for almost two years…whatever can I say?  

A view of Mumbai at night, "clean" and shining bright!

A view of Mumbai at night, “clean” and shining bright!

I love this city in all its smelly and chaotic glory. I love its vibrance. I love the warmth – not of the weather so much as of its people. I love the shopping. I love the theater. I love the yoga I pursued here. I love the best pani puri in the world. I love…so many things here.

[But I do hate the sight of all that roadside garbage nor will I miss the traffic and crazy commutes].

The sweet and sour experience of living in India is looking mostly sweet – in retrospect and when it’s getting time to say goodbye. Isn’t that always the case?

Home Again

So, I head back to the US with all the eagerness of going home, but it’s mixed in with the sadness of leaving the new nest that I had created for myself in my native land.

Aaah, the yin and yang.

My time here has flown by! Almost two years that feel like the blink of an eye.

I am heading to a place where the news I will be reading is not about Sonia Gandhi, Kejriwal or corruption and scams.  Instead it will be about Obama (yes!), Boehner, job creation and the fiscal cliff.

As I get ready to return home, I’m glad to say that I’m not alone. Nor will I ever be. Because accompanying me will be big buckets full of memories that will never go anywhere.

Yep. I consider myself very lucky indeed.

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“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”

― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go

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Heading towards a different skyline on the other side of the world

Heading towards a different skyline on the other side of the world

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P.S.  And what of my blog??! I haven’t had the time to figure that out yet.  I have loved every minute of creating it, even when the number of readers was at zero because it was never about how many would read it, rather about what thoughts were pouring through my head that just had to get written somewhere.

Now, what?  Perhaps I just morph it to The Yin and Yang of Life…whaddya think?

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Back Home, Reflecting on Yin and Yang

Home Again

There’s the yin and yang of life in India – and then there’s the yin and yang of life in India versus life in America.

I’m back home (read Southern US city) after much too long, having skipped my last planned trip due to a critical work project.  It’s wonderful to be back! It smells heavenly. It looks heavenly – the beautiful, fresh green of spring again (although it feels more like summer) interspersed with fabulously blooming dogwoods. It feels and looks so clean and pristine – the air and the earth. 

Forgive me the effusive praise…this is what happens when you are gone for too long.

I ended up skipping the entire winter here which, as mild as it was this season, would still have meant the use of a heavy jacket at times so that doesn’t make me that sorry. Instead, I enjoyed the mild, pleasant, unseasonably and unnaturally cool weather of Mumbai’s winter of 2011-12 where temperatures ranged from the 50s to the 70s.

I’m back for a short visit now. 

Every day has been a catch up day, meeting with friends and work colleagues, sharing news, information and warmth.  One night, I was at a friend’s house for dinner.  Since it was a week night, we started and ended early – barely after 10 pm. I was driving back home and it really struck me then how different my two worlds really are.  There was virtually no one on the roads!  It was dead. At 10 pm! During Spring Break week, no less!

Where was even that hint of a cacophony of sounds that can overpower and overwhelm you in Mumbai?  The honking car horns, the revving autorickshaw engines, the barking dogs…and people, people, people everywhere – it doesn’t matter if it’s midday or midnight.

 And, wait a minute, was I actually missing that?!

I know that this is not a giant metropolis like Mumbai, but it’s not a tiny village either.  It’s a nice-sized, right-sized Southern cosmopolitan city. Undoubtedly, this is quiet and peaceful compared to Bombay.

But listen to what someone who lives in the heart of Manhattan had to say of his recent trip to Mumbai – It felt so quiet and peaceful in New York City immediately after I returned from Bombay”.  Yep!

Other than feeling mighty wonderful about being back home for a bit, it was difficult not to notice some sea changes that are occurring in the US of A. The softness of the market is more than palpable – everybody is affected by it in one way or the other. The issue of the day: Jobs.

That usual American optimism is noticeably tempered, no matter who you talk to or what media you are reviewing. I wonder to myself, is this reversible?  Yes, of course it is.  This is part of the cycle that this country seems to go through every few decades…although most people’s memories don’t go back far enough to find a period as hard as this one has been.

And then, of course, there’s the upcoming election.

As Republicans converge onquantum Romneyas their candidate of choice, it will be an interesting time leading up to the election – which I will be missing and watching from across continents…:-(

No prizes for guessing what I want the outcome to be!

And Home Again

Too soon, it will be time to return to Mumbai and India where I will once again get immersed in the unique atmosphere and environment that can only be found there.

The yin and the yang... never let it be said that I don’t recognize how  fortunate I am to be living and experiencing both.

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Photos:

City Park View: By Richard Bitting [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 Autorickshaws in Mumbai: Antônio Milena/Agência Brasil

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