There’s something that must be handed down from Indian mother to daughter in how to handle these trips home. I found our last day in Delhi before heading to the US for three weeks to be so reminiscent of when we did the reverse pilgrimage to Assam as kids.
First, there’s the obligatory shopping. You always say you won’t give anyone anything and then it becomes clear that’s impossible –especially if staying at people’s houses. So as a kid, while my mother and I scoured malls to find good deals on anything that symbolized Americana – flags, broche pins, perfumes, lipsticks. Even cinnamon sticks one year—I headed to Dilli Haat and other markets for kische-y Indian, cushion covers, little Ambassador cars, auto rickshaw models, tea.
Before we used to leave the US for India, my mom used to make us pray for a safe flight in the mandir area at home. With no mandir in our flat (don’t gasp, haven’t gotten around to it), I grabbed a Ganesh my mother-in-law gave us and Nitin and Naya prayed to that. It was funny because when Naya left Felicia, she also clasped her hands together as if in prayer. I think she was torn between touching Felicia’s feet and giving her a hug so she just prayed (?).
There was the mad scramble for sure, the yelling, the “we won’t make it”. To make matters worse, we took a new Jet flight that is marked by clueless staff so we showed up at the international airport only to be told to go to domestic. Then they said we wouldn’t have to deplane in Brussels. As I write this, we are in the Brussels airport—deplaned for a two-hour layover.
It’s the closest we have come to the other part of our India that defined the journey – the journey itself. Consider Romanian airlines’ route from JFK to London to Bucharest to somewhere in the Gulf to Bombay to Kolkata and then finally to Guwahati. Here we have come Delhi to Bombay to Brussels to Newark. It’s comparable, trust me.
Irony of the trip: As we waited to leave Brussels, I looked with Naya out the window and saw a big plane that said TAROM. That would be Romania’s airline.
“That’s the airline Mommy used to take to save money,” I said to Naya.