As my flight touched down at Bangalore Airport last night, I felt my heart swell with that feeling you have when you return home. For a very long time, may be even now I wonder whether I belong to Madras ( now Chennai) or Bangalore. Being tamilian and having most relatives in Madras makes me have familial allegiance to the humid, coastal city which is now literally tattered under the metro construction. The december month shows Madras in resplendent beauty with every sabha and temple sporting kutcheris (musical performances), dance programmes and upanyasams ( spiritual discourses). The weather is at its quintessential best too, with the early mornings showing a relieving dip in the Mercury. The language is mother tongue for me and even though my ears twinge when I hear the school going kids talk in a seemingly harsh dialect, I cannot help but get lost the beautiful verses of Tamil slokams such as the Shiva Puranam, Thiruppavai and Kamakshi Viruttham. I have come of that age when I know that the dance and music education education I got back in my school going days is priceless because it opens up a whole new world of joy to me.
But then there is Bangalore, a city with pleasant weather almost round the year. A city where you can lace up and take a run in the open parks. The city with quite a good number of lakes within. A city which is relaxed. The city where I went to school and tasted academic success. The city where I wore my first chalangai ( dancing ghunguroos), the city I became a young woman in my first legal internship, the city I came to just married to my husband, the city where late night movies became so much more meaningful because I had a hand to hold while I watched, the city where I bought my own home in and the city where my baby is growing up. Really, I cannot decide which is home to me, whether I prefer the molagai bajji ( tamil -chilli bajji) or maddur vade (kannada-with no english translation).
But then again Madras reminds me of my thatha's old house with a couple of mango trees, neem trees, jackfruit tree and a flower garden that yielded red, yellow and white hibiscus flowers, the orange kanakambaram (that I came to dislike as an adult), the pink arali, the white thumba poo that is Ganesha's favourite and the violet shanku poo ( butterfly pea flower). Oh and the sacred Tulasi plant? I can live in that old, cracked and vast house within my mind. My memories of those are crystal clear.
How can I decide the city to which I belong? My heart is divided.
But coming back to why I started this post - last night when my plane touched down at Bangalore, it was the surety that I was going to my home. It was pouring and the chillness in the air was welcome from the uncanny Madras heat. I was travelling alone and bought myself a subway sandwich. There was no hurry. I could go home at my ease. Nobody was waiting. I ate my sandwich slowly, told myself that chocolate chip cookie was not exactly what my body needed and patted myself for having stayed away from the inviting aromas of the Cookie Man counter at the Chennai airport.
This morning, I woke up in an empty home. I went for my run and came back and stretched ( a luxury - because i usually have to come back and prepare for rush hour :). Yesterday, there was a battle raging in my mind on some personal issues. I guess the 7k-run let out all the negative energy. My mind is relatively peaceful, and I guess that is where is home!