As children my brother and I used to be overjoyed at the sight of stuffed shopping bags strewn all around the house. It spelt HOLIDAY. It promised us a vacation, new clothes and possessions, and the assured company of our parents and Grand mom for more than the prescribed 6 hours we saw them in a day. While shopping, we’d bump into friends, teachers and other families and have a gala time discussing holiday plans. What to buy for whom, choosing sari’s of myriad colours, soaps cakes, powder tins, cream bottles, jewellery and stacking it all away in suitcases, deciding what to assign to which relative were tasks of priority. Most of the time these shopping excursions culminated into eating out at our then favourite restaurant ‘Super’ which was anything but that. Who cared? The waiters knew our family history and we theirs, they had literally seen us grow up in front of them, doted on us, got us that extra dish without charging and we loved the unhealthy fried rice and chilly chicken. We never ordered. The minute one of the ‘uncles’ saw us our special was ready on the table.
I haven’t seen those people in 2 years. That restaurant has been demolished and a new one is coming up. I’m rambling now, going off at completely another tangent. It’s all beside the point I’m trying to make or maybe it really isn’t. I don’t like the sight of shopping bags around my room anymore. It ultimately means I’m leaving my family or they’re leaving me. I truly abhor shopping and hardly visit the mall that’s only a 3 minute drive from my house. My friends would kill to live there. I don’t desire new clothes, new accessories, footwear, nothing. I don’t fancy passports and tickets especially when it says Mumbai-Dubai. And I’d kill to eat that unhealthy fried rice and chilly chicken every single weekend despite the fact that I’ll be complaining about piling on the pounds and will be even more under-confident in public that I already am. Do I feel at home in UAE? Honestly there are times when I feel like a Martian, completely out of sync with the drastic transformations in the life I once led, my schoolmates, the people I knew and the places I used to haunt. So if ‘Home’ ceases to feel like home; then does Mumbai feel like home? Can’t really say, because it’s difficult to lead two diversely separate lives. I can choose to adopt one and give up the other but I can’t. My UAE life is who I am and was; and my Mumbai life is who I am and will be/can be. Moreover, like my mother very succinctly puts it I’m a hoarder by nature and can’t let go of easily. So I amble from a set of 6 months to another surviving solely on the short holidays that pop up in between like greenery in a desert, compartmentalising friends, clothes, routines, hobbies and food into two sections: Mumbai and UAE.
My perceptions over the years have changed. Bags of joy now herald the advent of bleak-looking six months, life the way I lived it for 15 years has now been broken up into parts and the mention of fried rice and chilly chicken that made me flash a 250 volt smile now creates saline pools in my house. But I’m trying, trying really hard to change that, achieve a state of equilibrium and merge two disparate aspects of me and ameliorate into a whole, complete person. I hope perseverance helps me to perceive differently.
Meanwhile, seriously contemplating burning off those shopping bags,