India etched on my global heart… thirty days of ‘lasts’

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Today I have just thirty days… thirty more days of living in India.

A friend was recently asked if she loved this country. “I can only love it a little,” she replied thoughtfully. “I’ve already given my heart to Malaysia.”

And this is how it is when we adopt a country as our home. More often than not, it comes to claim a piece of our being – symbolically etched on our global hearts. Mine is already inscribed with Japan, Scotland, The Netherlands, Qatar, Oman, The US, Norway and Kazakhstan. Now to this, India will add its treasured motif.

I am sentimental and fragile at the moment. How will I say goodbye to so much that I love?  

I’ve done this many times before and I know to say a quiet farewell to all that has been my life here. And I will… with reluctance, but also with much gratitude.

It will be a sad farewell: to the birdsong in the lush canopy outside my windows, to the bats that flutter and flit overhead at sunset as we ‘happy hour’ on the terrace. To the rain tree whose expansive branches reach out like the arms of a fond friend, and to the two lemony yellow villas across the street that backdrop saffrony-orange flowers. Also to a giant-of-a-tree that will soon be plump with juicy mangos, and to the slender palm trees with whale-sized fronds hiding caches of coconuts and pairs of emerald green parakeets. And to my apartment – my beautiful space with its hues of greens, blues and ivories. Where I’ve penned two books, laughed and lived with my family, and stepped out to the terrace to marvel at refreshing, life-giving monsoon rains.

Yes I will bid long, lingering goodbyes: to my narrow street with tall shady trees reaching up to the brilliant blue sky, to the security guards who wave and greet warmly, to the vegetable cart that is trundled down daily with Raj at its helm. And I can’t forget the chai wallah who putters up on his motorbike early afternoon or the the saree-adorned sweepers and the rhythmic s w i s h – s w i s h of their short coconut brooms. I will  also say ‘so long’ to the cry of too many cats and far too many barking dogs – even to the clang-clang of Bishop Cotton’s school gate opening and closing, opening and closing again.

And of course before I leave, I will also give a nod to those things that I have despaired of – the all together too much traffic and having to launch myself into the stream with the now practiced nonchalance of a local. There is the symphony of horns and urban clamour, the potholes and broken sidewalks deep enough to lose oneself, the birds-nests of tangled, dangling wires and the choking air that clogs and catches your breath.

Oh, but there has also been much calm – early morning walks in sheltered parks, outdoor swims in sparkling pools and long lunches in frangipani and bougainvillea dotted courtyards.


At this time, I become conscious of the many
 ‘lasts’. Will this be the last time I walk past faded elegant villas that remind of  what once was, or through a market where vendors sell long coils of garlands as vivid as rainbows? Where the aroma of spices piled high entice and beguile? And I’m sure I’ll gaze at sarees so beautiful, and vibrant, they’ll make my heart leap as they have always done. Or perhaps I’ll engage in the friendly banter of barter with a gentle South Indian soul. 

How I will miss it all. And also my Indian friends; with gifts of sarees, with conversation so rich and stimulating, with sincerity and affection of which I have rarely known.

Inevitably, there will be ‘a last time’ gazing up to grand temples and spendid ruins, boarding a Southern Indian train, or cruising to the market in a rickshaw – wind rustling my hair, smells and sights so close I can touch and embrace them.  

Yes, that litany of ‘lasts’ will mark the cutting of threads that have bound me to this dear place. But in fact, they have already been woven into the tapestry of this global life – India’s richness, etched on my thankful heart.

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18 responses »

  1. So happy that time has positively influenced your perceptions and appreciation. It is a spectacular country with all its foibles and fascination. May your next homes inspire you as well. You’re writing beautifully.

    • Yes it has Pamela, foibles and fascination is a good way to describe it. As you can imagine it is a lot to give up my apartment and have to trust my next home will also have a bit of magic… so nice you were here!

    • Thank you so much Carol! There are days when I’m more excited than others about laying my hat in a new place and yet is also feels time to move on. Even after 2 years, some days I still marvel… I had the wonderful privilege of living in India!

      • Of course there is but that’s life as you know it really really..I hope I get to visit India one day soon 🙂 x

  2. A beautiful description of a country not many of us have seen or understood. You bring to life with your pictures and words. Will you be home (in Canada) before your next posting?

    • Myrna, it means so much to me that I can bring other countries to life for my readers and there aren’t many places more vibrant than India… I have been so fortunate to live here. We may not be home until July 🙂

    • Yes ‘lasts’ are so important, if not also a little painful. For me, it’s the way the light streams through the fronds of palm trees, the glorious frangipanis, prolific bougainvillaea and the call of the birds… never to be replicated but always to be cherished in my mind. Thank you for the ‘fair winds…

  3. Memories so many Terryanne and many more. Looking forward hearing from you on the next journey to wherever.

  4. Enjoyed your ‘memories’. One has to immerse themselves in a new country to appreciate. This from personal experience having lived in Oman and Hong Kong, two visually and culturally different places.
    All the best on your next journey.

    • Yes appreciation has been in different stages here and now I can’t imagine not having had the chance to live here. I felt the same with Oman and in fact I suffered culture shock dearly when we left there and moved to Houston… six months later, I still wanted to hop on a plane and return. Thank goodness that time, and memories, help move us forward!

  5. Pingback: thirty days of lasts – a nomad & her nest

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