Of a cat, anxiety, and homecoming – May to July

The inevitability of Covid brings with it occasional bouts of excruciating anxiety and lethargy. But there’s a glimmer of hope in the form a foster cat.

We pick up Hannah from SPCA and smuggle her into our home (which isn’t without its share of trials and tribulations). She warms our hearts with her unbearable cuteness and softness. Cuddling her every morning upon waking up and after returning from work become the highlights of our day. Words may not be enough – as is always the case – so here are some pictures

You know you are loved when your cat gives you company while you grade mind-numbing tests.

Meanwhile, May brings with it, relief coupled with trepidation. The borders open for temporary visa holders and I book my tickets to visit home in June, a day after H’s birthday. Home. A part of me is in disbelief while the rest grapples with a bout of anticipatory travel anxiety. I begin jotting down my check-lists. Despite everything, I realize the pandemic is still a fixture at this point which necessitates a bunch of documents such as vaccine certificates, letters of permission from the University and my supervisor, and self-declaration forms. To top this, I find myself plagued with questions, wondering how things would be back home. Would they have changed a lot? Would the familiarity overwhelm me? Will my boyfriend and I actually come out of this visit unscathed? I see my residual resentment towards him bubbling up through the cracks occasionally. My mind is plagued with questions.

Though I find the whole process stressful, it is indeed soothing to have a cat around. Hannah sidles up to me each time she senses my low moods. H and I move onto another gripping K-drama, Beyond Evil which stays with us long after the season finale. One particular Friday, I wake up extraordinarily early and treat myself to a sumptuous breakfast at Ima, a popular Mediterranean eatery. I think it’s important to pamper yourself – if it is affordable – and let yourself off the hook from time to time. That evening, Ap and I go to the bouldering gym together. Little do I know that it would be probably be the last time we do so but more about that later.

Eventually, Hannah finds a (hopefully) loving home. It is bittersweet but H and I hope we can get her new parents to send us updates. Unfortunately, our efforts to persuade SPCA to pass on our message go in vain as we never hear from anybody. We try not to dwell on it and move on with our lives.

As my visit to home looms, I find myself getting frequently anxious. It doesn’t help that my PMS worsens with each cycle. There are increasingly vicious arguments with my partner, and no, I won’t elaborate but let’s just say – they leave me desolate and miserable. Add to this, the sudden demise of a favourite singer. I wake up to the news that KK – a musician beloved to millennials like me, whose music formed the soundtrack of our adolescence – is no more. I’m gutted to say the least.

On a positive note – a much needed therapy session helps me focus on my triggers and thoughts upon getting triggered. Engaging with thoughts is what escalates an emotion from 3 to 10 and my homework is to bring this point into awareness. Thoughts are words. They are meaningless unless acted upon. This includes false reassurances to calm myself down temporarily. A heartening realization that makes realize that I can get a grip on my emotions by engineering the thoughts behind them.

Times whizzes past and H’s birthday finally arrives. One day before, I wrap up stuff at the uni, hurriedly hug my coworkers which includes Ap, and rush home to decorate the house and keep an assortment of cakes and pastries ready. Unbeknownst to H, I have proactively organized a birthday treasure-hunt after consulting her college friends virtually, the treasure being a deluxe version of her favourite BTS album Be. H is not one to vocalize her affection towards me, but the treasure hunt proves to be a success the next day, and her joy is palpable! I film a reaction video of sorts and share it with her friends.

We eat lunch at a cosy South-African eatery on Elliot Street. As I watch H happily munch on chicken and waffles, I feel a sudden pinch in my heart. It feels gut-wrenching to leave my best friend, flatmate and sole support system in New Zealand all by herself for a month whilst I visit home. It doesn’t help that Covid is always lurking round the corner. What if I am not able to come back? The guilt of being the first one amongst us to visit home is crushing. But H, in her typical H-fashion assures me that there’s no need to catastrophize. And so with her reassurance, I embark on my visit home.

To say that I am in the best frame of mind on the flight back home would be a lie. My excitement about meeting my partner and going home is marred by a vicious argument days before my departure. And so it weighs on me heavily as I try to distract myself with movies and cups of coffee on board. I write a sombre note on my phone that is addressed to him, and to us. But I’m going to cut the suspense and jump a few days ahead – we meet for lunch where I manage to convey what’s been plaguing my mind, and hear him out as well. I feel understood for the first time in a long time.

The first time I see my father’s familiar figure outside the airport, a wave of relief washes over me. It feels surreal to be back home. The instant cortisol drop makes me gorge on the sandwiches and Lays wafers my mother has thoughtfully packed for me – washed down with two packs of Frooti. I can barely stop filming videos on our drive back to Pune. Seeing my mother at our doorstop proves to be the final force against the dread that has resided in my mind all these months. I am truly elated.

Needless to say, being home makes a massive difference to my mental health. I don’t recall being this relaxed in a long time. I realize that I was either anxious about my relationship falling apart or about having my parents fall sick. I am grateful. The familiarity of being home isn’t as overwhelming as I had catastrophized it to be. The city is eerily identical to what it looked like in Jan 2020, save for a couple of new buildings and the lack of two distinct flyovers near the university. The cat I used to play with in our compound remembers me even now! She’s hale and hearty despite having evidently aged. I am warmed and pleasantly surprised when almost all my friends make time to meet me despite their busy schedules. S flies down to Pune for a week and we spend our time together talking about everything under the sun, catching up with what had gone down in the past two years.

Meanwhile, my partner and I have several conversations about our future, calmly for the most part. I realize how brutal distance can actually get, because the man I know isn’t this villainous character that he transforms into – in my head – when he is away. It isn’t always hunky-dory though – there are days when I regress to being irate and upset due to certain plans not materializing. This includes a trip to Goa. Not only does it deeply disappoint me, but also leads me to project my disappointment on him. Gradually, things resolve as we make the most of the time we have at our disposal.

As July looms, I realize I am not ready to go back yet. Luckily, I manage to extend my visit by another week. I get a health check up to rule out fibroids and other menstrual cycle issues. My blood-work and other reports are normal save for abysmally low levels of Vitamin D and B12. I schedule a consult with a psychiatrist – known to our family – to get an opinion on my anxious moods. On her recommendation, I trial a cocktail of medications for barely three days until I realize that I am not ready yet. I am not entirely satisfied with her diagnosis which is further subtly confirmed by my long time therapist. On the latter’s advice, I decide to take a second opinion in December (when I’d be home again). In the meantime, I am put on a vitamin supplement course to be on track.

July further instills a sense of calm and gratitude in me as I spend quality time with my family and indulge in activities that give me great satisfaction. Upon invitation, I give an informal talk on my PhD journey to my old research group at NCL. I am warmly welcomed by my ex-supervisor and ex co-workers. I embrace the ordinariness of my home that I had once taken for granted until I moved out. I indulge in my favourite vegetarian dishes. I stroll around MG road. I witness Pune rains and deeply breathe in the petrichor, the lack of which is conspicuous in Auckland. I binge watch Reply 1988 with my mother.

As my visit draws to a close, it is understandably bittersweet. But I leave home with a sense of wonderment.

I have no idea why I felt like home wouldn’t feel like home. If anything, I’m relieved.

A is for Auckland

Auckland. Five years ago, if you had told me that I’d be pursuing my doctoral studies in an island country that is conveniently neglected in world maps owing to its negligible land size, I would have scoffed at you. Laughed in disbelief if anything. But disbelief is what I felt when I first walked the streets of this city alone, after having wallowed in homesickness and the anxiety of having being left to fend for myself in a new city. The pandemic has been a cherry on the cake. That I have managed to live alone in this city – that seems more like home to me than home back in India – for over a year with a novel virus on a rampage seems surreal. These were dreams, wishful thoughts – not the virus of course – circa 2016. But the Universe is a wondrous entity. And you may laugh, but I seriously believe in it.

Since over a year, I have been gradually discovering and savoring the bittersweet joys of adulthood, something that has come to me quite late in life (as I’d like to think) as many things have in the past. I have taken my time to arrive here, and I don’t regret it. The transition from a comfortable home life to one that involves self-discipline and independence wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. During my last in-person session with my therapist, I recall voicing the fact that my mind was a blank slate with regards to moving to New Zealand. It had been too overwhelming to imagine and account for worst-case scenarios in a place where I couldn’t visualize my life yet. But it worked out for me eventually, bit by bit, like the pieces of a puzzle that fall into place, and for that I am infinitely grateful.

What I love about Auckland is its laid-back, cheery vibe. While it is harder – in general – to find friends here, I have been blessed with a sweet circle that has been a constant source of solace to me during these rough times. I had visited New Zealand back in 2018, during a family vacation, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how the place kept calling out to me. I remember visiting the University of Auckland – it is where I study I now – and being in awe of the place. Undulating roads, a chill breeze, a beautiful green park with blooms in season, students in chic winter-wear, and the smell of fresh caffeine pervading the air – these are my memories of that evening.

There is a park we visited back then, when my parents, sister and I clicked selfies under a beautiful tree next to a fountain. The April sun was kind to us whilst a chill breeze fanned our faces. Fast forward to last year, my lovely friend and now flatmate helped me find that park with the very same tree, courtesy Google Maps. We clicked pictures again and contrasted them with those clicked two years prior. I felt an absurd joy in recreating those moments.

One of my favourite haunts in the city is the waterfront near the Ferry Building. It was and continues to be my refuge on days I feel low, and my happy place on good days. I have always had a soft corner for the sea. As fortune would have it, as of December 2020, I have been living in an apartment rental that faces the peaceful waterfront. To sip on hot coffee while gazing out at the still waters dotted occasionally with yachts is a quiet joy in itself.

I could probably write endlessly about the joy and satisfaction I have experienced while exploring this city so far. The strongest emotion I have felt after having adjusted to my new home is that of contentment despite the chaos around me. The government works painstakingly to ensure normalcy in the country while a pandemic rages across the rest of the globe. Mentally, it has been years since I have felt as grounded in the present as I do when I walk the streets of Auckland city. I take time to observe the architecture, the lights, the sounds and the smells that make this city. I wake up each morning to be greeted by the majestic Sky Tower which is visible from my balcony.

I’ve come to realize that home is a feeling. New homes can be created again in new countries amidst new found company and friends who care. After having moved here, the constant feeling of incompetency has gradually vanished. I am confident. I like myself a lot. And to say that I’m proud of myself is an understatement.

I won an Award!

So I should have posted this months ago but time is something that has slipped away faster than usual, lately.  My increased work-load and the mayhem of temporarily moving to another apartment (since our place will be getting revamped over the next few months) has barely given me time to blog. Anyway, enough of the prelude…let me dive straight into this –

*drum roll* !!!!!!

So the rules are as follows

1. Add the award logo in your post

– Yup done that.

2. List all the rules.

– Okay this one’s pretty obvious.

3. Thank whoever nominated you and leave a link to their blog.

– Thank you Outside Perception for nominating me for the Mystery Blogger Award! It was quite unexpected to be honest.

4. Tell your readers three things about yourself

– I’ll mention stuff that I haven’t blogged about, yet. Plus, I don’t know if everyone who knows me personally is aware of this so here goes –

One – I do dabble in poetry and short stories occasionally, but I’m conscious of posting them on a social platform. I neither indulge in metaphors nor adhere to the rules of poetry writing. I think my skills definitely need some polishing.

Two – I love dancing and watching good choreographies. But then again, I’m really self- conscious whilst dancing before an audience. I don’t know if I’m good at it.

Three – I obsess over neat handwriting. I tend to have a good opinion of those who can write neatly and legibly.

5. Nominate readers and notify them.

I can’t nominate OP again but this is a good opportunity to mention some great blogs I stumbled upon during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I hereby nominate

Simply Marquessa – Hands down, her theme won my heart. Marquessa’s theme “Hawaii” was based on Kate, the protagonist and her journey towards self-discovery post a fatal diagnosis. What appealed to me most about Marquessa’s style of writing was its lucidity and the elements of Hawaii cleverly stitched in the plot.

A few drops of ink – Cynthia’s theme “When Words make our Worlds” was an absolute delight to read. I have added quite a few non-English words  that don’t have an English equivalent to my arsenal. 100 points for an innovative and informative theme!

Milly’s Guide – Lauren’s theme was about mental health, and I found her posts to be comforting on days I felt gloomy and low. Thank you, Lauren.

A Journey to Courageous Living –  Andrea took the bold step of facing her fears, this April. I loved her theme for its individuality and positivity. More power to you, Andi!

My Random Ramblings    – Tiny tales that were lucid and impressive. Kudos to Shweta!

Keith’s ramblings – Light-hearted, quirky and endearing, Keith’s spin on “Amble Bay” made me feel as though I was a part of this quaint, coastal village with its diverse characters.

6. Link back to the creator of the award.

Thank you Okoto Oke Enigma! Awards are an impetus to writing stuff that has the power to connect with people.

7. Ask your nominees any 5 random questions of your choice!

Here’s what Outside Perception asked me

Tell us about something that you used to believe only to find out it was incorrect?
I used to believe that E.T. was real. Yep, I have a strange fascination for aliens.

If given the choice between Cake or Death… what would it be?
Cake of course! No two ways about that.

What was your imaginary friends name and what special skills did they have?
My imaginary friend was Rahul, except he was pretty normal. Rahul was my favourite patient when I played “Doctor Doctor” with my doctor set toys!

What is your all time most watched movie?
by Vikas Bahl, starring Kangana Ranaut. I have watched this movie a hundred thousand times and I know all the dialogues by heart!

When you have downtime… (Laugh.. yah I know) Ok, If you ever had downtime… What would you do? 
First of, I’m not too well-versed with American slang..so um I am assuming downtime refers to free time? Oops. So whenever I unwind, I usually play my guitar or read a book. Or watch canine videos on Instagram.

And that’s a wrap!

Here are some questions for my nominees

  • What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
  • Which songs feature in your “Guilty Pleasures” play list?
  • What is that one weird thing you are afraid of?
  • You are forced to spend a whole day with that one person you can’t tolerate. How will you spend it productively without losing your cool?
  • You have been asked to direct your favourite actor. Who will it be and what will be the plot-line?

I look forward to your response!


January musings

Dear Diary,

I prefer diary to blog because the former lends a personal touch to a virtual space and sounds less absurd than the latter when preceded by “Dear”. Anyway, I feel motivated enough to write to you today. It’s probably owing to all the reading I’ve been up to lately, and more so to do with Chbosky’s lucid style of writing in “Perks of Being a Wallflower”, that I’m currently hooked to (for a second time).

January is about to end soon and that amazes and disappoints me simultaneously. I can’t lay a finger on what exactly disappoints me about the month ending so soon, but I’m amazed because it feels like I bid 2015 goodbye just yesterday. This month was headlined by a memorable industrial visit to Bangalore and some unexpectedly good academic grades. I feel rejuvenated and happy with myself (which isn’t something I feel too often). Moreover, somewhere in my heart I wish to go back to this city, despite its loathsome traffic and pollution.

It’s the 26th of January today, and I was almost inclined to catch the annual Republic Day celebrations in my locality. But, I ended up missing it thanks to my poor timing and equally pathetic decision making skills. I don’t know if I’ll be home around this time, next year. It’s a bittersweet contemplation laced with relief. A part of me has been growing intolerant of the excruciating familiarity around me which includes my surroundings. It has been gradually preparing me to handle change. Another part of me still refuses to let go of the comforts of living at home and demanding filter coffee on a whim. And as cliched as this sounds, only fate will decide what it has in store for me.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve been reading a lot, regardless of the genre. Resuming good old reading habits is akin to meeting old friends; a phrase or a sentence is enough to infuse you with nostalgia, paving the way for old memories which otherwise lie in the nooks and crannies of your head, gathering dust. I’m beginning to appreciate the idea of Kindle though it’s no match for the texture and smell of fresh or old pages. I fervently hope this isn’t another passing phase. I don’t think I’ll ever have a problem getting attached to books. It’s people and their complexities that stress me out.  Of course they do so with my permission but I haven’t figured out a way to say no.

The sky has begun to look prettier these days, especially at around seven in the morning and at around six in the evening. There have been some days worth remembering, not particularly for an occasion but simply for the weather, like last Sunday. I spent it with Saudamini, loitering in Koregaon Park, in hopes of finding a good dress at one of the boutiques. It was one of those winter afternoons defined by a brilliant blue sky that contrasted with the glistening, sun-kissed leaves of the trees lining the lanes. Such was the bliss induced by the atmosphere that even the passivity displayed by the store owners in their attempts to cater to us couldn’t ruin it. Such days are meant for reminiscing, for listening to your favourite song and imagining yourself to be in a scene from a movie. Such days are meant for basking in the company of your close friend. Such days are meant for pausing, for being conscious of the moments that solace you.

My visits to ‘Coffee Jar’ have become regular. I don’t think I have ever frequented a cafe as much as this one. The coffee is great and the prices are affordable for someone who buys coffee as much as thrice a week. Add an occasional cheesecake or a brownie to that. I meet Saudamini very often these days. She makes me happy. I need more people like her in my life. Oh, she also has a great sense of style.

It’s funny how things change in a month. I’m quite sure my rants portray me as a sullen person. It’s true that gloom impels you to flush out your angst on a blank space. On the other hand, the vibes that a good book or a good day effuses is enough to make you spread some warmth through words.

That’s all for now. I’ll write again, soon.


Upside down frowns

I am happy.

Happier than I have been in a very long time. This summer has probably been one of my best so far, and not in terms of where we, as a family, went holidaying, but in terms of how things have shaped up for me so far.

I must admit, the whole guitar and music scene has suffered a bit for me, considering I decided to pursue my recent-found love for photography. Yes, a Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera. I joined the DSLR cult.

I need to figure out a way to balance both. And, a way to control my ADD tendency towards my hobbies. I have begun to multitask way too much. I know multitasking is good, yet, not really at times.

Hobbies can’t make one happy, alone. Or maybe they can. I don’t know. I haven’t really made new friends as such. Just maintained the old ones, and probably realized their worth. However, I may have become familiar with people who were strangers a few months ago, to an extent where their presence has become a refreshing part of my mundane routine.

I sometimes wonder what happiness really means. When you’re plunged in the depth of your worst nightmares  and when the world is an epitome of melancholy, happiness becomes an eclipsed entity, an idea that becomes so obscure that its existence is almost as good as gone. That’s when one scrounges for it in every nook and corner, and probably assumes it lies concealed in rings of cigarette smoke or submerged in a bottle of liquor. Or maybe it could be stolen from someone and be unleashed through pure sadism and malice.

But at least you feel happy at the end of your pursuit.

 What about the time when you step out of a never ending dark tunnel and step into sunlight? The rays could be from a warm summer’s sun or probably from that of a cold winter, but, it’s sunlight all the same. It makes your path visible. It’s a far cry from despair, and its bound to fill your heart with zeal. That’s the sort of happiness which is well deserved. The kind of happiness that makes you want to gulp it, breathe it, and fill your lungs with.

Then again, happiness could mean reading Murakami’s book one morning with a cuppa filter coffee and a plate of cheese sandwich. Or it could mean climbing a not so high hill, one rainy afternoon, with a dear one you meet after what seemed forever. Or it could mean just going to bed feeling content.

Who knows?

I’m scratching my head right now. It doesn’t have a definition. Or maybe it has a multitude of them.

 I am happy 🙂

Another Blog Award!

Firstly, I apologize for having replied so late!

And of course, THANK YOU LISA! 🙂

These awards sure do make me happy. And inspire me as well. Yay!

The Leibster Award is for those blogs with less than 200 followers. I’m sure my blog (which has made it to a meagre count) has managed to please my fellow bloggers and friends, and heck yeah, I’m grateful! 🙂

The rules of the Liebster is to answer questions from the award giver and then pass it along to other deserving bloggers.

I’m ready to answer Lisa’s questions!

Why do you blog?
Ah, well. I began blogging on a random impulse to cope with this rough patch I faced, two years ago. So it would be appropriate to say I used my blog as an outlet to release my pent up emotions. But, things are different now. It’s not just about rambling pointlessly. My blog makes me happy. My blog makes me realise I can write and that I’m good at it. So yeah, I blog to feel happy.  🙂

What is your advice to someone overcoming adversity?
Think of feeling relieved at the end. I firmly believe every adverse circumstance is followed by relief. Cliched or not, optimism has always helped me.

If a movie was made of your life, who would play you?
My sister. 

If you could have high tea with anyone living or dead, what kind of tea would you drink? (Caught you off guard with that one, didn’t I?? 😉
Jeez. You sure did. 😛 Ummm. Ginger tea. We call it adrak waali chai in Hindi.

In one word, describe your feelings at this instant.

If you and I found ourselves in jail, what would we be “in” for?
For stealing books, definitely.

What is your favorite kind of donut?
 Chocolate glaze!

Mine is an apple fritter. Will you bring me one?
I will, only if you share it with me 😛

If you could be any kind of athletic ball, what kind would you be? Why?
I would be a ping pong ball. Because I like the name. And ping-pongs are robust. 😛

What’s your favorite form of exercise?
Early morning brisk walks with good, good music 🙂

I (apparently) want a parrot named Pooter as a pet, what kind of pet do you have/want?
A pup named Swami and a kitten named Charcoal

And now, I would pass on this award to some of my favourite bloggers who post great stuff.

Amruta at Iamamruta
Kanika at Sensitive Chaos
Sangita at Skaypisms
Saudamini at BeingSoda
Uttara at Billions of Blue Blistering Barnacles

And here are my questions !

  1. Is your blog an integral part of your life? 
  2. Do you regret having posted anything in your blog?
  3. Do you get embarrassed reading your initial posts?
  4. Crayons or paints? (because I felt like .. :P)
  5. Which is your favourite book character?
  6. If you were a musical instrument, which one would you be? And why?
  7. Your favorite day-dream?
  8. Which is that one song that has been stuck in your head of late?
  9. A stupid movie you watched recently?
  10. Which one of these inspire you to write – beaches or mountains? Why?
  11. Name a song that would have suited the most poignant moment of your life so far.

Don’t forget to follow the rules – Pass on this award to 5 of your favourite bloggers (with less than 200 followers) along with eleven questions!

Thanks Lisa, once again!


Nh7 time. Hello, Weekender!

India’s happiest music festival is back!

Last year, it had been pretty spectacular. Unfortunately, I  managed to attend only a day out of this awesome three-day wingding, thanks to my semester-end examinations.

This time, it’s different. And I’m extremely grateful to my University for chalking out a peachy schedule, that ended a week prior to the Weekender.

It begins today, and boy, can I wait?!

Eighty artistes, spanning three days can be quite overwhelming. But, that’s the whole point. It’s a treat to the ears and the eyes.

Energy overload. A lot of jumping and romping. Headbanging. Moshing. Pigging out on food. Screaming oneself hoarse. Photographs. A keen look-out for one’s favourite artiste. Backstage sneak-peek? Yeah, probably.

OMG. I haven’t been this excited in a very long time.

Going solo

Confidence is a sexy feeling

I sang Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” for our intercollegiate fest. Today.

I have gone solo in the past, but I somehow end up compromising on that 100% effort I usually put in during the practices and rehearsals. It unfortunately diminishes to a mere 50%, leaving me feeling quite dejected by the end of it.

Today was different. I feel sort of…erm..proud..of my performance. Credit goes to my friend, who provided an excellent keyboard accompaniment. I didn’t want to bungle up and douse all the enthusiasm that had been an integral part of our practice sessions.

Okay, I’m making it sound like it was something very crucial, almost a life-or-death situation. It was actually just a solo singing competition for a usual college fest, that I assumed I might eventually forget.

But, looking at it now, I guess I will cherish this day. My voice didn’t waver. I didn’t quiver. I hit the high notes. The words flowed smoothly. I worked at the expression. I know I did it. I feel happy with myself, something that is very rare.

I think I gave my 100%. I don’t care about the competition. I think the stage is lovely. The euphoria after a good performance lies at a higher level than triumph, though I did feel triumphant for having gotten over my fear.

I think I just tasted confidence.


The best reassurance that you could get from someone is that he or she loves you. And love doesn’t necessarily have to be romantic; it has its aspects.

I feel overwhelmed by this reassurance given to me by my friends. I have seen them go out of my way for me, and I just want them to know that I do value every bit of it.

It is good let even the closest ones to your heart, that you appreciate their efforts in bringing more light into your life. Yeah, while some emotions are implicit and some words unsaid, their expression takes the relationship one notch higher.

I notice how everyone wants me to be happy. I feel loved. Plus, this is the best gift I could have asked for, on my birthday.

I love you guys.


Learning to let go is hard. But when you do, the relief you experience is fabulous.

But I’m still in the process.

I miss Bombay. I miss Goregaon East – Vishal Housing Society. 4th Floor.

I miss how my grandparents exclaimed, “ANJUUU!!” reflexively, when I rang the door bell.

I miss their eager, excited faces on seeing my family and I, after months.

I miss the verandah. Especially Aanchal’s ayah glaring at me from her window.

I miss the smell of filter coffee wafting into my room at 6.A.M.

And the aroma of lemon rasam emanating from the kitchen.

Birthday cards arranged on the shelf behind the television.

Karishma’s phone number scribbled on the white label stuck on the receiver.

The bathroom tiles.

“Goodnight” mosquito coil plugged in Thatha-Paati’s room.

The detachable bed rest.

Sun TV playing on the television.

I miss watching Paati doze off while watching the television at night.

And thatha resting on his bed (his throne, so to say), gazing at the window opposite him  – a crushed cigarette butt on his ash tray, an empty tumbler with dabara on the side table.

I miss the smell of Paati’s closet, the dressing table ke neeche waala cupboard, and her numerous hankies.

I miss the halls, rooms, bathrooms,windows, grills, vessels, empty Bisleri bottles, showcases, and the unused crockery arranged in those glass cupboards.

So many small things. The inhabitants. Details.

And all those infinite memories attached to them, and bonded to that house.