Saturday, May 17, 2014

I take a sip of the chai and forget my cares if only for that swift moment with my friends and memories of the nostalgic town.

"How are you?" Toby my old friend calls as soon as I walk in, drinking the coffee I saw him last drinking when I left him a few months ago, "You look a little – odd."

"Yeah, you're right," I mumble back in reply, "I need a good drink."

"There's always the good drink here, E," Melody, as always sounding cheery, "We've got holidays till Tuesday, and good thing we decided not to take the train to MC, we had a feeling you'd turn up."

"Our prodigal son returns," laughs Tenzin, "atleast for the entire weekend?"

"Yes I think so," I reply, "Oh I don't know. I don't care. I just want a drink."

I can smell the tea brewing. I can feel the fumes that came from the gigantic tea urn from across the hotel room. The room is filled with students, dressed in their Saturday casuals, all of them looking happy and relaxed. Tell me again, I say to myself, why did I even leave in the first place?

"How was Singapore? Or was it Bali?" Melody asks.

"I flew in from New Zealand." I murmur, closing my eyes, facing the sun and feeling the warmth creep into my bones.

"Jealous. I want to travel the world." Toby was looking at me with an enquiring look, "How is it?"

"Trust me, now that I am here in this old haunt, in Town, hearing all these crowd noise, and smelling the smell of a hill town murmuring with morning bliss, there's no place I'd rather be."

"But what about Zanzibar?"

"There's no place like the familiar. When you sit among strangers and yet know they are your family because you live in the confines of the same town."

They look away knowingly. They know I'd be saying these things when I left months earlier. They then start talking among themselves. Of eating lunch at the Tibetan restaurant upstairs from the clothing outlet stores. Of watching a film in the decrepit cinema hall with painted images of bygone heroes and heroines hailing you at the front door. Of going for a walk down the water's edge, skimming stones on the smooth surface and skipping along the edge to keep your shoes dry. Of sitting and just watching the himalayas catch morning or evening sun rays, starting to look backgrounds from posters of hand-painted gods and goddesses.

And even though I am sitting in that tea shop with them – in town surrounded by bustling humans, ambassador cars heaving through narrow streets looking like fat ticks, hearing cackling voices of shopkeepers calling out for customers, and smelling the smell of ginger in the cup of tea that has just been served on my table, seeing glimpses of the mighty himalayas from a nearby window always an imposing presence in the reality of this townsfolk – even so, I feel terribly homesick and lonely.

I take a sip of the chai and forget my cares if only for that swift moment with my friends and memories of the nostalgic town.

– EE