Date : 31st December, 2017
Place : Vancouver International Airport
After ten days of intense travelling, it is time for us to head back to Mumbai. I am quite relieved, because even though these past few days have been wonderful, I am home-sick and frankly, very tired. You may go to many amazing places, they may even start to feel like home, but nothing can come close to the comfort of your own home.
Jami uncle had offered to drop us off to the airport. When we get out of the car at the airport, I get hit by a sudden stroke of wind which makes me shiver. You see, I have worn only two layers of clothing assuming that we will be sheltered from the cold by the airport’s central heating system. Although I had anticipated the goodbyes and the promises to visit each other, I hadn’t thought that it would take ten minutes! By the time we finished, I had turned into kulfi. I hurry inside as soon as the goodbyes are over, get done with the check in, security, and immigration process and then sit in the waiting lobby for quite some time. The lobby is beautiful. It has an artificial stream and quite a few plants.
One hour later.
In the flight to Paris.
Yeah, Paris. Our stop-over is at Paris and I couldn’t be more excited. It is 31st December in Vancouver and on the other side of the world, my friends are already celebrating New Year’s Day. Two hours into the flight, the attendants start going around in party hats and wishing everyone a Happy New Year. We get a cute little cake decorated with the icing declaring, ‘Happy New Year!’ It looked good but the taste is horrible. I guess everything is not what it seems to be.
I am trying to sleep but in vain. So I decide to complete the account of everything that had happened in Vancouver. I have already written some stuff but I would like to describe some moments in detail and that would take some time. The staff is very nice. They come around every half an hour to offer us drinks and snacks.
A few hours later we finally arrive at Paris. It is just past dawn, or so it seems by the colour of the sky. And the time on my watch. It is a lovely pale pink with a slight orange tint at the bottom and traces of the last night of the year towards the top. The weather is cold, but not as cold as Vancouver. We complete the immigration and the security procedures and sit down in the waiting lobby. I am very tired and hungry, so I lie down on a reclining seat and take out an apple.
One hour later.
On the way back home
We have to wait only an hour before we boarded our flight. This is a Jet airways flight. It is quite reassuring to see Indian staff, food and signs written in Hindi. An Indian woman with a baby is sitting next to us. The baby comes over to us at times and stares at us in wonder. His mother is quite embarrassed by his behaviour and apologizes whenever he pokes us or pushes our bags.
This flight is very comfortable. I was able to get an hour of sleep and now I am as fresh as a daisy. I am currently juggling between writing my diary and reading a book. I keep on looking at our location on the screen before us. I am counting the moments to check on when we will arrive. Annoyingly, the arrival time keeps on changing and by the time we land, it is three in the morning.
We go through the immigration process. The man at the desk is speaking really low and my ears are still paining after the flight. So I request him to repeat. He gets irritated and tells me to take the hood off my head. He shakes his head and mutters to himself, “Kids these days!!!”
We hire a cab and ride back. The streets of Mumbai are still bustling with cars, although it is nearly four in the morning. Looking up at the dim yellow streetlights that illuminate the streets, I experience a strange nostalgia that I cannot explain. I get this feeling whenever we travel in the dimly lit Mumbai streets at night. It makes me yearn for something I never had. It makes me realize how much I love my city, the city that never sleeps. It makes me realize that no matter where you go, you always have to come back home.
I may travel to many places, in India or abroad but Mumbai will always be my favourite. After all, it’s my home. And it’s a part of my identity.