On the way to Mumbai yesterday, it rained. My middle daughter cried fora long time because we could not see monkeys in Lonavala. During our last trip, a few weeks ago, we had stopped and fed the monkeys in this little hill town, little paper cups of steamed corn spiced with red chili powder. On a side, way below- railways tracks crisscrossing in and out of a tunnel, on another side water falls and cliffs. On that day, the skies were covered with mists and the monkeys lined the highway, babies hanging off their mother’s backs and bellies.
The girls have grown up in America. They stop to admire goats, cows, sheep grazing on patches of grass; camels, dogs and cats searching for shade on hot days. Monkeys are a whole special breed. Rarer and therefore more precious. Recently, I heard of monkeys outside their classrooms and they are absolutely thrilled by their presence in their school. So why should my daughter cry because she did not see monkeys in Lonavala?
She slept the entire way to Mumbai after that let down. Later she said, “This drive was not as fun as last time.” She wanted everything to be exactly the same. This trip had to replicate the last one because that was so much fun. And I have been thinking about myself and how somewhere I am reaching for that myself. “That time” in life when I was young and full of hope- am I constantly trying to replicate “that time” and struggling with the sceneries that are no longer the same, the fact that the monkeys are now not sitting on the highways? Is this why we are here in India and if that is so there is no doubt in my mind that it can only lead to being disappointed? “That time” when I was young, when I worked as a news director in a twenty four hour news channel, that time before bad marriages, before disillusionments, before child-birth tore the body in irreparable ways, that time before I found I was not enough on my own in foreign lands, that time before I let a man convince me that I was nothing. Between that time and now, a river has flown, mountains have formed, craters, ridges, gorges, hills- the landscape has changed and shifted. So have I.
I take a deep breath and settle into my chair as I write this. The family has settled in. I feel like the surveyor of a new land waiting for a discovery.