Thursday, 21 April 2011

Back again in Volkach

Just to say that I am back home again in Volkach, after almost six months away. Most of the time I was in Upper Assam working with the Tangsas. I also spent a lot of time in Guwahati and got involved in many things -- some new and some old. But about all that later -- just wanted to record a few things I noticed immediately after getting back before I forget them.

Almost the first thing that Stephan did as we tried to board a taxi at the train station was to open the driver's door to sit down! Even he, although he had been away for just a month, had forgotten that cars are left-hand-drive in Germany. I chuckled and teased him about it but the next morning when Inez, Stephan's sister, called and started listing all the flowers that were blooming in her garden and describing how lovely the weather was, and I found it all a little unusual, I realised that even I had got a little out of sync. For when was it, if at all, during the last six months in India that anyone had spoken about flowers and weather and garden in the same vein? Okay some people in India also had pretty gardens but flowers and lovely weather were never so crucial to a person's general well-being there as it is here. But we don't need to continue this discussion any further -- in a few days I will also be chattering away about the flowers and the weather like Inez, I am sure.

We had timed our return to be in time for Easter in Germany. And it was lovely to have an invitation -- but coming back to find a world decked up in yellow and orange with Easter eggs everywhere, and the impossible attempts to find the right presents to take along, were not easy to take in one's stride. It was Bihu in Guwahati just before we left and even there we had had to worry no end about presents for everyone around us. There were also japis and gamochas to be seen on many shop-windows in Guwahati and loud Bihu music everywhere -- come to think of it, Bihu there and Easter here were not all that different, and we seemed to have inadvertently landed up having to do the same things twice -- no wonder it was beginning to pale.

Well... in any case I shouldn't be complaining for even after being away for six months I found this world here, as well as our house and garden, more or less as I had left it. That is one of the nicest things about Germany -- nothing changes, or at least, not very quickly. In six months certain streets in Guwahati can change beyond recognition, but not here. The friendly shopkeepers were all still in place and acknowledged my presence after so long in their usual friendly and polite way -- if they were surprised to see me back after so long, they did not show it. Our housekeeper was there looking very much the same as ever, her usual efficient self -- she was the one who had kept this house going all this while. The kitchen, the sofas, my table, the bed-side lamp, my little gosain-ghar, the owl at the front-door,...looked very much the same -- it was all very comforting.

Of course the huge stack of letters (and Christmas cards) waiting to be opened did tell a story of their own. Also the plants in our garden had lived through another very severe winter since I was here last -- not all of them have survived, but still... Now that that spring is in the air and I am back, I have to make sure the garden looks good again... it gives me something I enjoy doing to do, something familiar to hold on to, as I try to find my feet again in this world, so different from the one I have left behind in India. The telephone does not ring all the time here, friends do not keep dropping in all the time, the neighbours don't come to smother you with affection and food the moment they see you arrive, even the silences are longer here, but still I do feel very welcome. I could not but be grateful for the happy chatter of the birds in our garden as I woke up in the morning to the soft chiming of the church bells and told myself that I had really come home.

1 comment:

  1. It is great that you have your home on two places and both can create such pleasant impressions on you! Sign of a beautiful mind. :)