You 'kay, hun?

Monday, September 24, 2018

It sucks to be back.

I know, I say it each time I'm back after a short/long sabbatical from Delhi but it truly sucks dead monkey balls to be back here, in the center of things. All the things that I believed I had wrapped up just about explode in your face when you return. This time is no different. Everything you think you have forgotten and would never come back just shows up as soon as you're back. It seems as if no time has elapsed since I left, so now that I am back, I can't keep pretending otherwise.

I remember so vividly, coming back last year from my birthday vacation. The flight touched down, and I knew, I wasn't prepared to deal with the shit here. I wasn't prepared to go back to work, to go home and be at the center of things. Cutting slack is something people in this city don't understand and with my return, it was no different. Things I left behind, blew up in my face. People I left, decided to bite me back and how. Everything I thought I knew and was leaving behind came back in unsurmountable quantity to attack. Within three days, I was morose and dead on the inside yet again.

This time, the layover and the jetlag may have prevented that instant touchdown horror, but it's back. A week later, it's all real. It's haunting. It refuses to go. I can feel it settling down. What's worse are the people all around who are ensuring that I need another vacation even before the jetlag wears off for the first. Everything I thought I knew about everyone is inadequate. People can surprise you in ways unimaginable, that is to say, if you think someone's going to disappoint you, you don't know the degree of disappointment they can strike you with. Case in point your family, but we'll come back to that when I'm not writing hate posts about being back in the city where I've been raised and braised.

Here we go, we're stuck for at least a year or until some agency comes forth and sets us free in the form of all expenses paid research trip. Or a sugar daddy. Whichever doesn't happen first? There's always the option of running away from home and becoming a refugee.

London was magical. I've been avoiding giving words to this trip, in any fashion, on any portal just as much as possible. I want to live with the experience in a selfish way where I don't share any of that with anyone. Sure, I've rambled non-stop about it since I set my foot there, but that's cursory. I refuse to give up in words and limit my thoughts down. To write is to lament, to give out every bit of what you own in your head like yours. What's mine is mine, I refuse to share any bit of what it has been in my own solitary company.

London gave me the joy to be by myself, in my company and love every second of it. Being in the center of things alone, of not giving a shit and of getting lost, and finding myself each time, making it back.

London was joyous. I walked for kilometers together. I lugged my luggage from places, to bus stations, to railway stations, across modes of transport, to running across platforms knowing that if I miss the train, I'd miss my flight and quite possibly be poorer by about 100 pounds buying another flight ticket back home. London allowed me to be emancipated in a way where I could be lost in the middle of the city at 2 am, pissed drunk with my phone on the verge of dying and nobody being on my side.

On one such night alone, I asked myself, would it completely suck if you're mugged at this point on gunpoint and face death? Not entirely, I remember answering inside my head. Everything I wanted to see, to know, to feel and live through, I've done. I've no regrets and I can't ask for more. I'd be dying happy, satisfied and certainly lighter in the head.

London is a gift that keeps on giving. It's like going to the carnival and playing a game where you're hunting for the stuff toy from the machine where you keep putting nickels in and meander the controls for you to pick the toy. Sure, there's all kinds of crap inside, but you're only eyeing that Paddington stuff toy. London's that in the list of countries in the world. There are better places, there are easier breaks to take, there are much kinder cities to go to, but London, it's the real shit.

London's the bitch you want to be best friends with when you're going on a night out. It's the hot spot in the city where you don't have the reservation but you'd wait for the entire evening in a queue, just to be able to make it in. You ask yourself, is it even worth it standing in a queue on a cold, wet, grey night when you have less than 12 hours left in the city. The city gives it back to you when you get to go inside. It is truly fucking worth it. Heck, it brought my birthday in with the downpour. At 12 am, I found myself with frizzy hair on cobbled sidewalk, running along with a motley crew of old and new friends just to be able to find a place where we could sit. It rained at 12, and it continued to rain, as though embracing me and welcoming me to a new place, a place where I felt some sense of belonging despite not having anyone I could call my very own. It's a Delhi ritual, where it rains like mad on my birthday. London welcomed me, just as much, with open arms. Before you think I'm getting dreamy and unbearable, it didn't rain a single day while I was there, with the exception of my birthday.

It's maybe not London as much as it's Delhi at its pathetic best. The two weeks I spent away, not one day did I think everything is crashing down. The university I study at is coming undone, the liberals really need to start a revolution and be more proactive, the right wing nut cases need to calm their tits down and open their eyes to the ignominy that surrounds them. It's just Delhi being its brutal self on me, and on everyone around. To be in London, or for that matter, any place is to be away from your own personal reality and what you're facing. Delhi, is facing a total breakdown. For my personal growth, in my career, in my academic career and pretty much whatever little personal self space I retain here. Delhi is dusty, deranged and dirty, not in the way a cocktail should be, but more in the way the adjective it shouldn't be.

I found myself constantly worried each time I was out beyond 10 pm by myself. My Delhi ass was worried about being abducted, killed, raped, or having rods inserted in my intestines at any given moment. That's what Delhi does to you. It terrifies the living daylights out of you and ensures you feel the same even when you're in a different city. By the time I was ready to leave, I felt like I could breathe effortlessly, even while being alone in a sketchy neighbourhood at 3 am. Unfortunately, it was time to leave.

And Delhi? It's the same. I stepped out at 12 noon today in a dress covering my knees and found myself the object of gaze by onlookers. Mind you, this is a Sunday and I was in a public place. London taught me that Sundays are for brunch and ciders, they're for your family and cookouts. Instead, all I got was a pathetic day after spending a shit tonne of money to keep myself upbeat and about 3000 calories to cope up with the loss of all things fun for at least a year to come. It doesn't help when your family is acting out and you've to find extra ounces of your Delhi self to deal with them again. This fortnight made me forget that I live with them and that it's just as difficult as the city to adjust.

And me? I'm back. The cheerful person I nurtured in this fortnight is dead and we're celebrating her demise tonight in the form of a pathetic birthday celebration that people around me forged to have, complete with a disgusting mousse cake. There's nothing more heartbreaking than coming to know that people you've known all your life can't manage one thing right or display such attention to detail when it comes to you that you want to shoot yourself in the head, even before Delhi allows an opportunity to a serial killer to murder you in broad daylight.

Delhi, you win. I'm back and I'm dead on the inside. I hope you're fucking happy. 

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