Flying To Bengalur(u)

Flying back to a city I’m most comfortable in evokes memories of the first time I landed there. Atleast in my memory, I instantly recall being wheeled by a porter, because I decided to sit on top of my suitcases – a big, grey Delsey, as the Unaccompanied Minor staff allocated to me struggled to keep up with our pace, holding all documentation. I remember searching the crowd for my grandparents’ eyes, my grandmother’s eagerness, and my grandfather’s excitedness. An entire summer here, I remember thinking. Pure bliss. Only to be presented with incessant rain and unpleasant tomato juice.

Year after year, for 6 years, similar scenes play out from the B-roll that is my brain.

Each time, I recount, vividly getting into the Cream White Omni my grandfather owned and being wheeled away to the Basaveshwaranagar house. The smell of ripening yelaki bananas and Parle-G biscuits surrounds me, with the tantrum I threw – expecting a more lavish spread for my arrival. What strikes me was how uncomfortable I first was with the taste of the water – and how my grandmother packaged water in plastic Bisleri bottles, to ensure I felt protected by the RO my spoilt body was used to.

I can place the first phone calls made to home, announcing my safe arrival. What I imagine is my parents heaving a sigh of relief, considering their package had reached its’ intended destination. I can’t particularly relate to what they must’ve thought when their 5-year-old, fresh from kindergarten graduation asked to fly alone to India. But I’m so grateful for that experience. So many memories of mine involve aeroplanes.

Including puking every single time I had to leave Bengaluru. Every. Single. Time.

I never learnt. My relatives would all turn up with food I loved eating to my grandparents’ place. And I used to eat it year after year. Only to awaken and vomit it all out – either at home before leaving, or en route to the airport. Once I even puked after clearing Check-in, just before Security. I remember using the telephones in the old HAL airport to call up my grandfather and aunt and tell them I was fine.

Flying into, and out of Bengaluru has a lot of emotion connected to it. It’s the city that shaped me as a person.

As I go back for the third time this semester, all I want is to pause and remember that feeling of each wheel hitting the tarmac. I want to pause time when I hear the announcement that we’ve landed in Kempegowda International Airport. I’d like to take that extra second to smell the air from the staircase to that bus that shuttles you to the terminal.

I’m not as homesick anymore, largely because I’ve adopted my room as my home.

But God, the thought of getting rejected by an auto driver after saying “Jayanagara hogthira?” is quite beautiful.