Wednesday, 17 June 2015



I wake up early today but not to the calls of the birds and the rustling of the Sycamore leaves. It's the call of the dying hours here which I feel in the morning breeze. With heavy heart, not willing to bid adieu to this quiet place, I stand with my morning tea on the terrace, looking at the running squirrels, the hopping hare, the flying sea gulls above in the vastness of the clear blue sky. Something inside me says,"This is not the end. You'll be back here.", but it's always the same with me whenever I have to leave a quiet place in the lap of nature far from the busy hum drums of crowded city life. I remember the unruffled, unspoiled beauty of 'Panchmarhi'. It was the same feeling then too and it is still very strong in me to visit the place and get settled there in the twilight of my life. But, the reservations of life hold me down from the day dreaming to the reality of life, the truth of life that nothing is going to stay forever...keep moving on.

There are dark clouds in the east. The wind rises and spreads those patches of clouds making the blue sky partly cloudy. The weather is cool and pleasant. We leave for the Newark International airport at 11.30 AM. Joe, the same cab driver is there. I keep looking out of the car window with eyes wide open. Yasmin is dozing off but I remain wide awake to see the green hedges, flowery shrubs, beautiful houses and meadows passing by, knowing that this may be my last chance. We reach in forty five minutes. 'How soon!' I regret with a sigh. Joe drops us at terminal B. We have arrived an hour early. The check-in counters of Air India are closed. We wait there with other Indian passengers. There are not many people waiting for the Air India flight. May be because we are early.

The check-in counter opens and I get the boarding passes- Passage to India. Since I have got rid of those two check-in luggage, I can now move around and see the terminal. There are three hours for boarding the flight. My gate number is 55. We go by escalator and find ourselves in a large foyer leading in all directions for different gates. There is an Indian before the passage leading to gates 51-57. He beckons at us. He is a Gujrati bhai 'Vijay Kumar Patel'. While doing his work of checking the boarding passes, passports and the weight of hand luggage, he continues talking to us about our destination and things about himself. He assures safe security check asking us to buy items from the airport duty free shops. But we are in a declining mood for shopping because duty free does not assure any discount on the price. We feast on our home made 'parathan-bhujiya' rolled in almunium foil. Then, we stroll around. The duty free shops are more or less the same anywhere with few buyers.

The boarding time is 3.50 PM. So, we sit in a restaurant near the passage to gate 55. The Gujrati bhai keeps coming to us. He talks all the time in his Gujrati style Hindi. It seems quite comfortable to see someone talking to you in your native tongue in a foreign land. The hour turns to minutes and seconds and finally it is time to leave. I give a warm hug to my brave girl and our eyes give way to our departing feelings, quite common in our race. It is that bonding that sets us apart from others. Yasmin will take train from Terminal B to Princeton. Waving goodbye at her, I finally make my entry to the passage to gate 55. I have to go through the same process of looking in the eyes of the camera to warranty my identity. Then, take off my shoes, laptop, handbag, travelling bag in trays for x-ray. When the security check is over, I feel relieved to be hundred percent innocuous. There are duty free shops inside too, from where I buy dark chocolates worth 20 dollars. It is the first shopping that I do at my own in that foreign land before departure. Well, at least it makes a mark on me that I am not that shy that can not even shop in foreign currency.

The Gujrati bhai keeps his word and arrives before boarding. He dials Yasmin's number and let me talk to her. It's a kind gesture of him that I will remember long. He, too, bids goodbye to me and then I move through the tunnel to board my flight to Mumbai, India. My seat number is 37 F. It's in the mid row but side one. So, no question of getting squeezed between two. There are mainly Gujratis in this flight because the destination point is Ahmedabad via Mumbai. I envy harmlessly at the business class passengers hoping someday to be one of them enjoying the luxury of the flight. But, I am quite content with my lot and seat. There is a Hare Rama-Hare Krishna American well clad in kesariya dhoti and ang-wastra. He helps other passengers with their cabin luggage over head compartments. They are quite high. So, I keep my back-pack near my leg space.

They give you enough to eat on flight to let you feel full all the time. I enjoy the snax, supper, breakfast and lunch watching movies. The head set/phone is okay this time. So, I re watch the movie 'Gone with the Wind'. Then I sleep for almost four hours.

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