Day 1: Skyped with Grand Kids 1 & 2. The brats are growing up real fast. Can’t keep up with their American accent. It’s been 2 years since I saw them in person. In a few years they will be all grown up with lives and priorities of their own. The frequency of their India sojourns will keep coming down. Wish I could get to spend more time with them. The ephemeral joys of phone calls is what I have to deal with.
Day 10: The daughter called today. They just bought a new house. I guess their plans of coming back to India are now buried a little deeper in the closet of ‘not happening’.
Day 15: The daughter called. She wants us to go visit them. Their new house is all done up and she’s really excited to host us. I put her off citing some business commitments.
Day 30: It’s been 14 years since she’s crossed the Atlantic. The clamour insisting that I visit them is getting shriller by the day. Now that I am retired, I have gossamer-thin alibis to postpone my plans of visiting them.
Day 40: Plans finalized !!! Just booked our tickets. It was a nerve-racking experience deciding between ‘Ásian-veg’ and ‘Hindu-veg’’ meals. It’s a two month trip. I wanted to go there for a month. But the daughter put her foot down. The Visas are already in place. They have been in place for the last 10 years in anticipation.
Day 45: Was out drinking with friends. A few of them have just returned from ‘abroad’. Was trying to glean information on the state of affairs ‘out there’. It’s the same story with most of them – leading a nomadic life post retirement with a never-ending loop of the following: a) 3 months with son-1/daughter-1 in California and taking care of the grand kids b) 3 months with son-2/daughter-2 in Houston, taking care of the grand kids c) Back to India to clean the apartment and buy some more real estate for the kids and then repeat. It got me thinking about facing my worst fears – the fear of losing my freedom, fear of losing my identity and the fear that I would be deprived of my daily dose of 2 pegs (my son-in-law is a strict teetotaler). In India I am my own man. I drive my car, I have my friends and I drink my cheap whisky without fear or embarrassment.
Day 50: The D-day has arrived. The packing is almost done. Airlines compliant baggage – check, acceptable clothing to go out in public – check (the daughter has specifically asked me to avoid the lungi), goodies for the brats – check, threes copies of the tickets and the passports stashed at different locations in the baggage – check, medicines- check, butterflies in the tummy about being uprooted for 2 months from everything known – check. By the way, I heard they serve booze on international flights. My friends have advised me ‘to help my self with 4-5 pegs when offered for the first time as air-hostesses don’t really encourage repeated calls for liquor.
Day 52: We landed and are home. The flight was a breeze but I am stiff as a board. The daughter had come to pick us up. The brats are all grown up and chatter away about superheroes ( I know Superman & Spiderman so I can keep up), NFL (totally blank. I tried watching and decided cricket was so much easier) and a lot of other stuff that I just can’t decipher. Have decided to make myself useful and teach them basic Telugu while I am here.
Day 56: It is 2 AM. I am wide awake thanks to the jet lag, and in deep thought thanks to the boredom. The first few days were bearable thanks to the excitement of meeting the son-in-law, the daughter and the brats and then boredom set it in. They have busy lives of their own – schools, offices, science projects, music classes and parties. We try and snatch moments from their lives. It’s as if I have ring-side seats for a Broadway play and I myself am an actor whose stage is elsewhere (Ok !! maybe a little dramatic. but I am bored).
Day 57: It’s really cold here. My sinuses are acting up and I am cranky. Have broached the subject of shortening the trip and returning with the wife. However, we decided otherwise as we really did not want to hurt the daughter’s feelings. Both the son-in-law and the daughter have been going out of the way to keep us engaged. They strongly sense my boredom. Also, it is really hurts my knees to climb into a bathtub to take a shower.
Some Random Cold day: Texas is a huge state with cars all over. I just spotted one person on foot in a whole day of staring out of the bedroom window.
Some other Random day: Have finally discovered something common with the brats. We all love the same mobile games. Have been spending most of the time on the Tab. Facebook is helping a stay in touch with a lot of friends and keeps me connected. I guess this is one of the reasons facebook has turned into a geriatric friendship club.
Day 80: Its been a month. Have settled into a daily rhythm of ennui. We try and venture out on short walks on our own but are restricted to the home most of the times. The brats are sparks that keep us busy whenever they get time from their routines.
Day 95: We are 2 weeks away from the return journey. I can start the countdown. Brat 2 was complaining that it was unfair that we stayed only for 2 months and not longer. Such is life !!!
Day 105: Just boarded the flight back to India.. well hello freedom…