Monday, July 23, 2007

Sensory memories

Several days in the past weeks have been hot and humid (humidity just goes with living on an island!) Whenever I cross a certain street on my drive back from work at night, just for a moment I am not driving back to Long Beach Island, but feel like I am in another place. Specifically, India.

The scent of the salt, seawater and humidity in the night air reminds me so much of Bombay, where I lived for 4 months my senior year of college. It smells like a million trips to India with my family, where the Bombay airport was our first welcome back, the hot, stuffy, smelly air feeling too close after the climate controlled airplane, though there we were limited to a few feet radius.

The smell always annoyed me and I'd go back with stories of how I hated that Bombay was our first welcome back and that it was foreigner's/first-time visitor's initial impression of India. I was generally pretty cross after spending close to 24 hours on a plane.

But these last few days its been making me feel sort of homesick. I was born and raised in Minnesota, not in India, but as I grow older I appreciate our visits to my parent's home country even more. I'm sure I am not alone in this sentiment, from being the picky American girl who turned up her nose at the thick, unpasteurized milk and the dust that lay everywhere, to an adult who sort of longs for visits.

Of course, visits back are never relaxing. People always think "oh she is taking two weeks off from work for vacation" but it is not vacation, it is a trip. Its traveling for so long then meeting hundreds of people, running from place to place...very little time to relax.

Anyway, its interesting how senses can bring back memories...and for some reason the sensory memories that I remember most are always ones that bring me back to India: climbing stairs in my high school reminding me of the narrow staircase to my grandma's house. Sweeping my floor reminding me of the sound of the stiff brushes used to clean the floors, daily. A car horn reminding me of the crowded streets. And the thick, heavy night air reminding me of car rides from the airport, after spending 24 hours on a plane and 24 months away.


ZenDenizen said...

Cool post, it's funny, my friend Shruti just moved back to India from the Jersey shore and I happened upon your blog.

I don't think I'll ever mentally evolve past "the picky American girl who turned up her nose at the thick, unpasteurized milk."

inothernews said...

That is so strange that you say that because today I was at the salon and one of the receptionists said her granddaughter's friend named Shruti just moved back to India.

But I'm guessing your friend was not of elementary-school age. =)