Lost in Translation
First thing I did when I landed in Mumbai was speak in Hindi. I wanted to make sure of this. I’m sure it’s quite meaningless to others, but for me, it’s everything. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t land as a foreigner this time. I don’t want to be looked as an outsider in my own country and so I wasn’t:
“Kaun sa road se jarahe ho Tardeo?” (What road are you taking to go to Tardeo, my place of residence?)
Taxi driver turns and looks at me with a look of confusion. “Saab ek hi raasta hai” (Sir, there’s only one road to go there.)
So I no longer looked like a foreigner, just a clueless idiot trying way too hard. I grinned and looked out the window. The city still has the same smell. Same smell of dry air, fish, dirt, shit, piss. I always used to say that this was the worst part of coming to Mumbai. The ever-so welcoming smell to foreigners. But again, I landed as a local Mumbaiite this time so the smell was comforting. It felt more like, “Ahhh finally I’m home” as opposed to, “WHAT THE FUCK?”
When I usually step foot in the US, I don’t feel anything. This time when I left, I felt a lot of things. Did I make a mistake? I don’t want to go!!! I just want to go home and chill. Why can’t I just chill at home in America? I won’t have anybody when I get to Mumbai. Then just one thought made all the feelings of doubt go away: It’s time to grow up and be a man. This is what my father would have wanted, this is what my mom wants and now this is what I want.
Again, I have no feelings of regret. Only when I pass a group of friends hanging out on streets here I get nostalgic. I picture myself with friends shooting the shit, laughing, drinking and having a good time. I see a guy driving his car and stopped at a red light near my flat. I picture myself, on the way to somewhere in hurry back in the US, and the damned red light standing in my way. But nostalgia is like most other feelings, it passes. I will not let it ruin my moments in Mumbai. It will not clog my perception of Mumbai and what I have to do here. These memories from the US will for now just be something I think about before I fall asleep every night. To be continued…
- Avi Patel