It was 4.30 AM and I sat in the lounge of the Domestic Airport in Delhi, having a chocolate filled donut, waiting for my early morning Indigo Airlines flight to Mumbai. This was at the end of a long weekend in early April. It had been a very short trip.
74 hours ago, at 2 AM, as the taxi made its way out of the domestic airport to the Gurgaon expressway, the all too familiar broad road and the parallel rows of streetlights along Mahipalpur came into view. A big grin spread across my face. Being back in Delhi after 7 months- it had a very good and nostalgic feeling to it. I was happy. I had missed seeing this familiar sight for too long.
A short trip and a lot had to be done in the short time. A lot of places to visit, a lot of important people to be seen.
Delhi looked exactly the way I last saw it. Everything was just the same (Except the no-longer-existing BRT corridor). The heat was on, although I knew the real heat wave was yet to come. It was a relief from Mumbai’s humid climate. But there was a difference in all the similarities. I was seeing the city with a different outlook now. This city is no longer where I live, I realised.
Day 1, I went to both my colleges, met the faculty and my friends. The air of freedom that college provides- I sensed it and missed it. Day 2 was for my hostel mates from school and then some family time. Day 3 I met some important people from my 7 years in Delhi and attended the alumni meet of my college. I also got my graduation degree that evening. For some unavoidable reasons (I hope), some friends I wanted to meet couldn't make it.
As I sat in the airport lounge, a myriad of thoughts rushed through my mind. This is the city that nurtured me. This is the place where I made life's biggest choices. This is the place which feels more like home than home.
But there were some invisible and subtle changes that I had noticed this time around. Not in the city, but in the people I knew in the city. While on the one hand I have always tried to bring people together, make meets and get-togethers possible, I sensed a growing distance between people. Probably it's absolutely normal- we tend to drift away from our close ones as time passes and we get busier in our personal and professional lives. But then I give a second thought to it and realise that it's all simply about our choices and priorities.
As the clock drew closer to the scheduled departure time, my flight’s boarding started. I was headed back to Mumbai, back to the city where now I work, away from the place where ‘working’ had never crossed my mind. But then, didn’t Dumbledore say that it is our choices that define who we are, and not just our abilities? (The choice of taking an early morning flight so as to be on time at work in a different city- It’s a separate thing that I didn’t go to work that day and slept like a log the whole day with my phone’s battery drained off!)
Delhi had never been a choice I had made. It had just happened. Mumbai was a conscious choice. 2 years ago, on this day, the 20th of May, I had first arrived in this new city and had my first ice-gola at the Juhu beach. Little did I know that I would be making this place home so soon or that the ice-gola photo would become so famous! (Read how)
I didn’t get my preferred window seats in either of my in/out bound journey. The black-green auto-rickshaws looked so weird to the eyes which have now acquainted themselves to the black-yellow ones in Mumbai. But none of it really mattered. This had been a short and different trip. A short 3-day vacation I had wanted to take, to go to a familiar city, to meet people who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and that’s what I had done.
Life has its way of playing with us and happening! We just need to make choices and make them right.