Arrival [en]

IUCAA, 14 August 01

The journey to Pune was rather uneventful – which is good. Bombay, seen by night from the rainy sky, consists of patches of blurred flickering orange lights. Landing there has something to do with entering the uncharted territories: all the rules our world goes by are abandoned behind in the plane, and one is left alone to face India.

Nevertheless, I was very satisfied to find myself immediately at home. No stress, no worries (even when we had to change busses because there were only four people travelling to Pune). It was as if I had never left the country.

Going through the arrival section of Bombay International Airport for the second time in my life, I was capable of understanding how this place had managed to paralyze me two years ago. Not only is it very Indian – it is actually “nasty Indian”. Not pretty for the least, unfinished, frightening. As if they had done it on purpose to scare the poor first-time foreigners out of their wits.

It was nice arriving in IUCAA and seeing Nisha and Shinde. I had a nap in my comfortable (by indian standards, of course, but I can appreciate that) hostel room, and was woken up by a shrieking telephone at the very worst moment possible of my sleep.

You know – that moment where sleep is deep, in which some loud persistent sound rips unconsciousness open and sees you stagger across the room to the source of the disturbance, completely disoriented, not knowing where you are and what language you are supposed to be speaking. Then follows the half-awake nausea which grumbles deep inside: “This is too hard, I was better in the land of dreams, let me escape reality for just a little longer…”

IUCAA without most of the people I know is starting to hit me. I keep expecting to bump into all these people who used to live here 18 months ago. No Aleika, no Taramai, no Bagha, no Suketu… It-s a bit spooky, and I’m not sure I like it.

Monsoon never makes things any better either – it’s simply dreary.

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