Today was my last day in Bangalore. I know this makes no sense at all, but I celebrated it by going to Salem. You heard me correctly. My aunt and uncle drove me down to Salem, in Tamil Nadu, and drove me back. We visited a temple there and returned. The trip itself was an absolute delight, and I’m so grateful that they gave up their Sunday plans for this.
The first time I heard of Salem was when a boy from the city relocated to my school. I hadn’t even heard of a place like it, and I recall thinking that it sounded foreign (Middle-Eastern, almost), while also sounding like Salami, which made me chuckle. But then I met the boy, and we became really close – in part because of our mutual love for fountain ink pens, and in part because we just got along, conversation-wise. We were on the same bus route for a while, which undoubtedly made our friendship easier. What was crazy was running into him on a BMTC bus a couple of years ago.
But speaking to him and hearing about Salem and its schools, and the district generally, I couldn’t help but think that Malgudi, from RK Narayan’s works, was modeled along its lines. While I didn’t really explore Salem today, I did think about Swami and his friends a lot on the car journey to and fro, and that’s given me enough to be cheery about.
What I’m also really cheery about at the moment is the amount of time that I spent with my Chikamma and Uncle. They hadn’t seen me for six months, and I know they were concerned at times about my welfare this semester, so to be able to spend some time with them and talk to them about everything was pretty great. The car ride reminded both my Chikamma and I of our trips to Amoeba and Pizza Hut, and we stopped for some amazing food both on the way to Salem and on our return journey – which made everything worth it.
Of course, since I’m going home tomorrow, I need to groom myself. So I had a haircut and shaved my beard, and I now look 10 years younger and ready for my parents’ pampering. In a few hours I will be at the airport again. I really do hope there’s a fast-food joint open inside the international section of the Bengaluru Airport. Its very frustrating that the KFC is only open on the domestic side. Everything on the international side is so unnecessarily expensive.
[Update: nothing was open]