Sunday, July 11

Birds of a kind 

For the Chaudhuris and the Chakrabortys, with love.

We’re a boisterous, bathetic bunch, us Indians. Even so when we, like they say, gang up, in these shores. My head is still reeling with all the chirpy clatter that filtered through every cranny in the house this past holiday weekend. This chronicle is a tad late in the coming, as you can see, but my voice had gotten somewhat hushed, and not just in a manner of speaking. I’m not quite sure if it is the dearth of din in the neighborhoods that we suppose needs fixing, or the dynamics of a sudden surge of long-lost camaraderie that comes to play. But whatever it is, this energy is rather compelling. It brings out the talky and touchy traits in even the most reticent of us.

Coming now to the magical four days we spent with our most charming companions. There wasn’t any ice to break at all, to begin with, even though some of us were relatively new to a close-knit team that had roots dating back to two decades or more. The scheduling of our first rendezvous was an earful in itself. And it didn’t take more than half hour to ready ourselves to convene. The table was set, the delicacies spread, and the silverware, laid out, all in a jiffy. The luncheon, however, lasted three full hours, and in retrospect, I don’t actually remember what the menu was. What I do recall, however, is the conversation. It wasn’t all that topical, so to speak. In those three hours, we relived our entire childhoods, adolescent years spent completely oblivious to the grown-up life that was to come, and all within the safest confines back home, complete with the food we gorged on, the way we fussed about every spice and flavor in all savories we were offered, ordering our moms to add a bit of this and reduce a bit of that, and how, on ageing and entering wedlock, we had realized that we’d still remained the same self-proclaimed food connoisseurs, the difference being, we were the ones to bear the brunt of a meal gone wrong. We exchanged tips on correcting some of those cookery blunders, how to quick-fix several tasty bites, recipe novelties, and favorite specialty restaurants, among many other things, never mind that one husband (the others were, sadly, at work that day) or better half, to use an Indian colloquialism, was part of the tête-à-tête as well. He cooks just as well, and besides, like he said, he's the official food taster in his own distinct manner. And then when weekend actually rolled in, there were the long drives, sightseeing trips, dine-outs, dine-ins, barbecues, fused with simply extended hours of nights that bled into dawns, all packed with six glib voices crying to be heard and heeded to. We discussed olden days of glory, careers, travels and travails, new-found hobbies, movies, songs, snippets, celebrations and events that not all had been a part of, and entertained ourselves with plain, idle gossip as well as sweet reminiscences of eras bygone. We hardly slept, ate and laughed too hard, and lived every moment as heartily as we only, till now, could dream of. Home felt homelier, the homesick soul, lighter and merrier.

One week later, the walls still resound the spirit of our kinship. The ears are abuzz with snappy snippets. The heart aches for the rhythm of our uproar. And I have no plans of getting any less nostalgic any soon. Now, that would make our next reunion seem even farther, wouldn’t it? Unless, my pleas for an encore get heard right away. Listening, my dears?

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