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The smell of filter coffee and the hissing of the idli cooker woke her up. Home away from home. Where none of her devices seem to work. Internet was out of question, and the anxiety resulting from that was pounding in her chest. She does her little morning ritual of checking Whatsapp messages, and scrolling through her facebook homepage, trying really hard to stretch her hand in weird positions to get internet connectivity. She realizes there is no point of it here and quickly goes to the front yard– the verandah– to brush her teeth, where five different people try to engage in small talk with her, while she has paste in her mouth. She tries to smile at them, frowning internally hoping they’d get the hint, but also not get offended.

It had been her recluse since childhood- summers in her native. The constant she had never really realized. Through every move her parents had decided for her-new cities, new schools, new friends- the only constant was the Summers in her native. It was weird, really, how she didn’t understand why she was dragged to this place while the rest of her friends were in camp, or partying, or having road trips. She never really understood why she had to come here for a month, especially when she’d just gotten together with her first boyfriend. How can I live without talking to him for a month, she wondered. It angered her when her second boyfriend cheated on her the summer after that with that bitch she’d always hated. She blamed her parents for the fun she’d missed over the summers, as she’d blamed them for all the rashes and the condition of her hair after each summer.

It eluded her, as it eluded anybody her age, when one particularly important Summer when she was forced to come to this place, when it was time for another big move. She’d have rather spent the last couple of weeks with these friends she was sure were for life, and that crush she’d hoped would turn into something bigger. But no! Summers back home was what her parents wanted and it was exactly what she got.

But somewhere along the way, she grew up. And so did all her cousins. She wasn’t sure how far she could tread with them- was it okay to tell them she’s dating? Was it okay to tell them she’s had alcohol? Weed? Was it okay to joke about how she’d rather be a lesbian, because there’s only one guy in her class of 50? But she did, and it was okay. They laughed at all the right places and for the right reasons, and it was alright. They had had their laughs and Summers had just gotten brighter.

But this summer, it was different. She was too aloof. There was too much work she’d left behind and there was just no internet. Her guide was going to kill her. She had 3 conferences to prepare for and 30 undergraduate essays to check before she left. All her friends were cussing her because it’s been 3 years since she’s been away and she ran off to her native before she met them.

She was a bit confused, but she knew that if she didn’t come back here now, she just won’t be happy. She couldn’t live with the nagging sensation every summer brought with it-how could she tell her cousins that they would have to plan the reunion without her? How could she tell them that she couldn’t let her dream internship go, while one of their parents passed away? How could she tell them that yes, she wanted to come back, but just couldn’t afford it?

So, when the smell of filter coffee and the hissing of the idli cooker woke her up, she was happy to get over the stupid jetlag. She was happy to that there would be no emails, no Whatsapp, no Facebook to disturb the peace she always got here. She was happy to be home.


Rural, Indian.

To much of my annoyance, and some kind of other worldly peace, I’m back in Kerala. And not some touristy place either. It’s a village I’m sure I won’t even have heard of had I not been visiting this place at least twice a year.

In the past couple of weeks, my daily schedule comprised of getting up at 2 in the afternoon, ordering in lunch, and watching, more often than not Romantic Comedies, mostly with Hugh Grant playing a protagonist. Or watching Downton Abbey and catching up on Game of Thrones. A prefect vacation in the comfort of my bed.

And then of course I had to come here, my apparent native town. (Actually not. I’m a Bombay-valla through and through.) It is where my parents were born, after all. And all my relatives are (most of whom I do love, so the annoyance is not too extreme.)

However, it reminds me of the comforts of city life. Us, with our ACs to beat the heat, Twitter and Facebook to beat the boredom, and WiFi, pizza, and Chinese to make life simpler. Or are we just snobs, I wonder sometimes?

I had to travel in a non Air Conditioned train compartment, because, like me, tens of thousands of people love going back to their home-towns during that one month schools and colleges think are too hot to function. So we obviously didn’t get tickets and had to suffer the pathetic stench of train bathrooms and people who believe sweaty is the new sexy and the 40 degrees Celsius heat to come and stay in Kerala among doting relatives for a week. (I kid, of course, it’s only 35 degrees.)

On the train I was treated to a happy family- two women, most likely sisters in law, who bitched about each other behind their backs. To their respective sons. That assured me those trashy Hindi shows didn’t blatantly lie, after all! Followed by that, was a man who hijacked my dad’s seat and when was told off said, and I quote, “The country should run on humanity and not rules.” He went on and on at least for ten minutes, with my dad and I as his targeted audience. I obviously laughed at him on his face.

And getting out of the train, in my track-pants and I am SHERlocked tee got a lot of attention from people around me. They stared like I was the reason their teenage daughters got pregnant. (I’m a girl, do the math.) I lost my precious Game of Thrones badge, and while looking for it in a crowded bus, heard a man bitch right in my face about how “Some people need to listen to music and then complain about lost stuff.” I obviously wanted to slap him, but had I done that I would have missed my stop.

The nights here are amazing though. You can switch off all your lights and you wouldn’t know the difference between your eyes open and close. Last night, I was in so much awe, that the only way I realized I was alive was the sound of the clocks ticking and crickets humming and owls hooting. It makes me wonder why people spend thousands of rupees on a holiday in resorts and forests when all you do need is a house in rural India.

So, yes, I miss my laptop and WiFi. To be honest, I’m not sure if this post will get published for hours, the connectivity of my phone is so bad. But, I like this because it’s so different from what I’m used to- my grandmother’s food, and constant messages and looking forward to meeting cousins, who are the longest- standing friends, the birds and the bees, literally, the sound of the river running somewhere in the distance and green trees anywhere you look.

I won’t say Rice and Dal is no comparison to Chinese, because Merlin knows I do prefer the latter. But somehow, these trips are somewhat sobering experiences I somehow enjoy, in the end.

Lights Will Guide You Home.


I remember my childhood home very clearly. The place I spent my middle school in. I had a couple of my classmates as neighbours, one of them being one of the best friends I’d had at that time. But more than that, what makes me think of that house clearly is the proximity to the sea. At the quietest of evenings, I could feel the sea breeze, and see the sun setting, and I would know that only three kilometers away, there would be the best sight I have ever seen, repeating itself. At night, sometimes, while I’m out in the balcony, seeing the stars, I remember wishing that I’d grow up, and would lie on the beach gazing at those stars. I remember wishing that with me, I’d have my best friend, while both of us have lied down on the sand, probably tracing patterns on each others’ arms, and hearing the other breathe, and hoping that the life I was dreaming would one day come true. How else could I define bliss? Lying on a beach, watching the stars, the sea air tingling our half parted lips, the taste of sea, and salt; and the lightest of breeze? But like all childhood dreams, this too changed. Life moved on, and I was stuck in the dilemma of holding on, or letting go.

Today, after four and a half years of leaving that small town behind, I found bliss again. I went back to the beginnings. I went back to another beach. This time, two of them. First, I went speed boat riding. While my mum and aunt were scared, I was so sure of going that I didn’t have to think twice. I knew the sea was where I belong, and no matter what happened, I’d never be afraid of it. Later, I went to the prettiest beach I’d ever seen. I spent about four hours there, playing in the water, and writing Poseidon on the sand, watching the tide wash it away. I kneeled down on the sand, getting wet and at times, letting the tide push myself to the shore. Yes, water went into my mouth, and my eyes, soaking my spectacles, and making my vision blurry. I held my dad’s hand, like I did as a little kid, and let the tide wash away all my doubts and worries. I let the sea love me, as I loved the sea, and I let myself go once again.

So now, my best friend and I might not talk anymore. I no longer wish to lie with him on the beach watching stars. I no longer hold on to those childhood dreams of wanting to be wanted, and to belong. Rather, now I wish I could lie there alone. In peace. I wish I could watch the lights and probably the murmur of children playing and laughing. I wish I could hear the horses galloping away in distance. I wish I could see the distant lights of crackers bursting against the night sky, and a falling star fall away in the distance, against a clear sky. I wish the sea smelled of the salt, as the light breeze danced away like peacocks.

And I wish I could watch the sunset every day, and the sea, moving about like boiling water, and the silhouette of happy people in the distance, as the sun is about to set, casting its reflection in the water, the white sand caressing me, and the occasional twig here and there teasing me. I wish I could see the bright light of the day turn into night, as the tides go deeper, everyday.

I remember wishing today that the perfect death would be at the sea, and almost at that instant, I took it back. I don’t want people to remember me as the person who died at the sea; I want them to remember me as the person who lived at the sea. I want them to remember me as a person who felt at home while the tide hit me at my chin, sitting down in water, with my legs floating on the water, as much as I feel at home in my bed with my favourite book, and coffee. Because, sea is my home, and I am as much related to Poseidon as I am to Athena.