My beloved country

My beloved country

Posted in Delhi for 15 years during the seventies and early eighties, we fretted and fumed over its prolonged, sweltering summer heat. I was stricken by heat stroke twice.

The occasional sand-storm provided welcome relief.

We grumbled about the shivering winters, but that was the season to be hungry, to look forward to every meal.

We witnessed the Republic Day parade and Beating the Retreat only twice, but the sheer spectacle of the former and the dazzling colours of the latter have stayed with us.

We would have given anything to live out our lives in Delhi, but that was not to be.
Earlier, Ahmedabad with its friendly people was home.

Known as Gardabad for the dust blowing in from the Rajasthan desert during summer, aggravated by the stamping of animal herds, its fleeting winters were pleasantly cool.

A naturalist’s paradise, its fauna included migratory birds during winter, the peacock with its magnificent wing-spread during the brief rainy season and the red-beaked parrot that devoured all the guava in our garden: we loved it too but the inevitable transfer came after six years.

Calcutta, was indeed the City of Joy for me as I started my working career there and also got married.

The first taste of rasagolla, the smooth-running trams, the quaint cinema halls, the merriment around Durga Puja and the football and cricket seasons were great fun, notwithstanding the one-hour crawl along the Howrah Bridge that nearly made us miss a train once, and the occasional street fights triggered by the slightest provocation. I was transferred out after two years.

It was cricket-crazy Bombay in the early sixties, cramped in two-bedroom apartments with two kids, jostling in bazaars and commuting to office and back in one piece by suburban train.

A city of opportunities that had attracted people from all over the country and still does, cosmopolitan in outlook and culture, barring occasional hiccoughs, the film capital of India, and its lovely seafront. But we had to move on after four years.

The children have flown away, building their own nests elsewhere.

Twenty eight years have sped by in Bengaluru.

My wife and I are witnesses to its traffic jams, air pollution, uncollected garbage and alarming crime rate as well as to its growing into one of the most happening cities.

We have travelled out of India several times, visiting our son and daughter and grandchildren.

Enjoyable as these sojourns were, we were always happy to get back home.

Reflecting deeply, I feel that there surely was more about these places than meets the eye, that endeared them to us.

Not the climate, not the sights, but something undefinable, a common culture, call it Indian-ness!

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