And ever since then, when I haven’t been fielding questions on ‘Tell me what it’s been like?’ and ‘So, where next and when you taking off?’, I have been reflecting. A lot. It feels like that scenario where you’ve left multiple windows open on your PC and you’re toggling through with Alt+Tab!
|Yeh hain Bombay meri jaan!|
What do you see in that reflection?
The reflecting seems to point out that you had, to begin with, done a fair job at preparing yourself (almost over-preparing even) to make THAT move. The ‘quit my job’ move. You’d had ziggrillion conversations in your head and out of it. You consulted the past (replaying the ‘I’ve survived everything until now’ argument), the future (no, there was no crystal ball or shaman there – just that voice which wasn’t Morgan Freeman’s either) and the present (read: bank statements).
They gave you the signs you were looking for. None were on a blank cheque though.
But the lights were green.
And amber. The bank statement said amber. But that score was 2:1.
Good on you, you heard yourself say.
And good it was indeed.
You braved the world. It’s big, but not entirely bad, you note. You appreciate that you were welcomed everywhere.
You have returned to the place you call(ed) ‘home’. Familiarity isn’t breeding contempt – not just yet. You are appreciative of everything. But that does not mean things now are any better than they were when you had left.
Just like things in the world you had braved aren’t all rainbows and unicorns either!
But this does not take anything away from you. Or does it? Yeah, there’s very little we know about homecoming.
|Amidst the throngs | Charminar, Hyderabad|
|Welcomed by the sea of humanity | Kolkata, West Bengal|
Homecoming! What is that?
So I look back to the day and week I had returned. I was bubbling with energy – a certain kind of energy. The Return was not one definite moment, but a series. A series of epiphanies, if I may say so.
For instance, you’ve known yourself to be somewhat independent and respect yourself even more for it now. You sometimes find yourself recoiling away from anyone who won’t make an effort to try and figure out something out on their own. And because you know yourself better you have no respect for anyone who won’t respect you.
You realise that understanding people is beyond gut-instinct. When you meet an eclectic mix of people along the road, you see how it is different from running into the same cliques you frequented back home. In the same vein, you understand that while it takes all kinds of people to make the world, the travel world is made up of different types of travellers as well – and not everyone’s your type.
|Piecing the pieces – an attempt | Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu|
And then you attempt to piece these insights together.
You see the interconnectedness that exists – that role every action and inaction plays.
You believe – your vibe attracts your tribe.
So, what now?
I am grateful for the epiphanies. And the transformation. I am grateful for the homecoming. Even though I struggle to articulate it all.
I’ve decided to stay back longer. It’s intentional. That I’ll never fit back in is a given (Not that I want to!). I remember being excited and apprehensive about leaving Bombay. I knew the opportunity travel presented to me as much as I was aware of the challenges I’d be posed with. And I’ve had moments over the last year – and more precisely in the past seven months – that have changed me. I know I have changed. I cannot think like the person I once used to be.
|When I had the chance, I seized it to walk a different path | Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu|
Memories from the road will be unique to me and me alone. Unfortunately they are not as transferable as I’d liked them to be. I had the chance and I seized it to walk a different path.
And just like I won’t understand what’s so exciting about that new season of that new show or this other chic store that’s opened up or that ‘epic’ pub-crawl during my time away from the city, it is okay for no one to understand all the times I’ve felt brave, experienced happiness or fought back another bout with the nerves!
It’s a tightrope I have chosen to walk on – one that neither glosses over facts nor dismisses everything to the realm of the doomed.
Because to travel – whether long-term or short-term – is to hack open a secret vault and homecoming is being confronted by what was once familiar.
The present is still amber.
|Because memories from the road will be unique to me alone | Nubra Valley, Ladakh – Jammu and Kashmir|