Our last trip from Chicago on a flight that I’ve taken every other week as some kind of air bus between Chicago and Amsterdam for the past year and very frequently in the years before that. We are paying passengers now, sitting in the back of the plane; no free KLM funded business class seats anymore.
In the past several weeks I not only wound down my work for Air France KLM and helped Kumud with issues surrounding the move, but continued working on local projects in Chicago. The work was so all-encompassing that there was no time for planned farewells and goodbyes, as if the mind also didn’t want goodbyes, at least on my part. The children had planned farewell parties, sleep overs and tearful goodbyes on the last day of school, and I continued working on my ‘leads’.
We’re on our way to Mumbai now without knowing how long it will be home for. Will we be absorbed by that city and in turn embrace its heterogeneity and multiplicity, or is Mumbai a stop on the way to a more permanent home, the home we had hoped Chicago would become? The novelty of moving has long worn off for Kumud and I. Both of us come from families that have known their share of trans-continental moves, and to those we have added many of our own. As a couple we have moved from Singapore to Malaysia to The Netherlands, to the United States and now on to Mumbai. We desperately need to stop running and find a place to be, breathe and be at rest.
My screen saver has a picture of Mumbai which I took on an earlier visit to Mumbai. While I normally tire quickly of my own pictures and screen savers, and look for something else to express my prevailing sentiment, I have had this on for weeks now, and find it strangely soothing. It was a considered shot, taken at the end of a long hot day and a long walk down Marine Drive towards Chowpatty Beach, which is what the picture is of. It shows the colour and vibrancy of the city.
We’re sad to be leaving Chicago, relieved that the next step isn’t Amsterdam, which would have felt like a redux, and nervously excited about Mumbai. I asked Tarini, our youngest daughter, a few weeks ago how she felt about moving to Mumbai, knowing that she felt nervous, and she answered, “I think it’s going to be good. It has lots of high rises, so it’s modern, and it’s by the sea, so it will be a bit like living in Chicago.” Right.
So, thriving city of millions, of ups and downs, of world class grace and glamour, and abject poverty and filth: here we come, ready to meet you, ready to stop running, for now...
Btw, the banner photo was taken from our holiday home outside of San Gimignano at 6.20 am. What light! It lasted all of five minutes.