Tuesday, 24 February 2015

a trip home but with a twist this time..

Trips to india over the last few years have been very predictable (atleast for me). Visits to parents, meet up old friends (which is also is a bit rare for me now), shopping (routine visits to my favorite hot spots). But strangely the trip I made this month was exhilarating. My brief 4-day visit to Bangalore and the 4 day retreat to Kerala showed me 2 different spectrum's of India. An India that has leaped ahead many years from where I had left it more than a decade ago... 

Bangalore: Apart from my usual stops at my haunts (MTR for breakfast, Fab India, Anokhi, etc etc), I had to meet a new set of people- the team of Polka Cafe. I have been working closely with this 'young' team for the last 3 months now, writing for them out of Singapore. I haven't had a 'work-related' meeting in India for more than 7-8 years now. So honestly I was a bit nervous and excited to meet these guys, who had become more of email buddies by now. A 20-minute meeting lasted more than an hour. An eye-opener for me in a lot of ways. How things have moved (ahead) in the workspace, the style of working (especially the world I belonged to-PR and media), the robust explosion of the online space, the emergence of the 'blogging' medium with some of the writers being very young and very very good! When I walked out of that room, I felt like that 'overseas Indian', who I probably used to laugh at many years ago for not being up to date on India. 

Kerala- The 3-days spent at the backwaters (Alleppey), took me to another spectrum of India. It felt like our stay was a perfect package of serenity, calmness, quietness and warmth. For the kids, they learnt to 'just be happy'. Be it playing table tennis, a few jumps on the trampoline, an elephant ride, evenings spent by the swing in the resort, each moment and activity were ways of bonding as a family. 

The full-day spent on the house-boat was the perfect time to sit back, reflect and not stress. For my 7-year old, to see the village life in the backwaters (as you ride on the house boat), was an eye opener. Open schools, kids playing by the riverside, women cooking, each of these threw up questions. At every stage, we would ask her to compare it to her situation! Of course she never had answers most of the times! At the end of the trip, I was pretty sure that they are not wrong in calling Kerala 'God's own country'. 

A close friend often uses the term 'controlled exposure', and this trip was truly that for the kids and in some ways for me too (work wise). It was more about seeing the 'real India', the hardships and the warmth it offers. The waiters knowing who drinks filter coffee, and who prefers masala chai every morning, the chef taking my daughter for a tour of their kitchen, the house-boat staff ensuring the girls had their favorite 'dal chawal' on board, each act made us feel special!

I saw a 'fast India' and a 'slow paced' one together on this trip. I am back with some lessons learnt and hopefully with a few answers for my 7-year old!

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