This was supposed to be my best India trip ever since the kids are older and my helper E was accompanying us. I was spending a perfect, according to me, split of time – three days in Bangalore (due to my arriving late) and a week in Bombay, including Christmas in Bombay.
What happened was very difficult.
V and I started scrapping at each other pretty much from the moment I arrived. This was not unexpected, considering that we go through these phases where we are constantly bickering and biting, but this time it seemed worse. Or maybe just worse because we were on holiday and didn’t even have stress or fatigue to blame it on.
We did have illness though. V fell ill with diarrhea a day before I arrived, and just as he recovered, I fell ill (Is diarrheoa contagious?). I can’t think what I did wrong because, spooked by V’s illness, I was being quite careful. I was running through the toilet every 15 minutes through the (pre-)Christmas lunch at my in-law’s place, where I managed to keep down a few spoonfuls of curd and rice. By the end of the afternoon, I was exhausted and succumbed to taking a tablet to stop the runs in addition to antibiotics, only it turned out that later that I had taken something to stop the vomiting. V helpfully turned over and went to sleep while I went downstairs to ask my mother-in-law for a tablet to stop the runs, after which I got some relief.
By the time, we flew to Bombay the next day, I was demoralized by both the arguing with V and the tummy upset. I was going through alternating periods of sadness (basically silently cried the whole flight to Bombay with Nene obliviously watching his iPad next to me) and apathy.
Given my condition and the fact that my parents had arrived back from the US only a week ago, Christmas was a subdued affair. I had suggested we order in Chinese for lunch, which was non-traditional in itself, and then I couldn’t eat anything. Christmas growing up was usually a big lunch with extended family but nowadays for various reasons my parents aren’t doing this, and I find it unsatisfyingly unChristmassy. I had fought to have Christmas with my parents in Bombay, but I couldn’t help thinking that the big Christmas party at my in-laws would have been a better choice. Possibly me being ill and not being able to participate in the small-scale festivities or make it special had me feeling this way.
My bestie had ironically decided to push off to Hong Kong for the week, so we had one lunch with friends to catch up. Frankly, it’s not like we hang out that much when I’m in Bombay with the kids, but this year with E there I could have.
My two cousins seemed strangely disconnected, and I felt this time that I was almost putting them out by visiting them. Maybe I should have intimated them of my arrival earlier, not that I think it would have made much difference. We did spend a nice hour or so chatting, but they didn’t seem particularly moved when we left.
Stupidly, the one cousin who was enthu about meeting me, I only met once when she visited with her parents and then only tried to get together for coffee on the last day when she didn’t have time. Luckily, I did meet the other friend I’m close to twice.
Had a weird off moment with a childhood friend. She walked into the lift lobby when I was there with my mom and basically seemed intent on ignoring me, answering in monosyllables when I addressed her. I can’t imagine what I have done to upset her so. It rattled me and reminded me that I am not as numb as I think.
The kids clearly had a better time in Bangalore than Bombay, which irritated me slightly though it’s petty. V insisted on taking them on extended trips every day, which was needed to some extent but meant they spent less time with my parents. By the end, I didn’t have the strength to argue or discuss this.
Mainly, it was the cracks in my relationship that V that spoiled it for me. One evening, an aunt invited us to dinner – admittedly an inconvenient time and at an inconvenient place – and V flatly refused to come. I had to explain this to my aunt, because I am so fed up of making excuses for him. My parents, who are generally apt to praise V, were horrified by his tendency to contradict me when I’m correcting the kids (admittedly I’m not a saint in this area either) and our arguing in front of the kids.
One day towards the end of the holiday, I found myself contemplating my shit in the toilet bowl for worms and figured that that’s an apt metaphor for the current state of my marriage in it’s bad phases*
On that uplifting note, let me end with some of the nice things that happened on the holiday:
1. I connected again with my oldest niece. She is heading for the teenage years and the last couple of trips, I struggled to connect with her, although she was always very fond of me. This time, I guess I had more time on my hands to actual sit with her and figure out the conversations that interest her.
2. I had many nice conversations with my parents. These days, I have been feeling increasingly disconnected from my parents as they age and get more set in their ways, but it was nice to discover we can still have a conversation.
3. There were nice catch-ups with cousins (albeit truncated which left me feeling strange) and at the (controversial) dinner at my aunt’s.
4. Watched and loved the movie Coco, though that could have been done anywhere.
5. I realised that my parents-in-law are really peaceful. I don’t know if this is because they have changed (I think my mother-in-law has) or I have (I am definitely less insecure and on edge around them), but I do as I please, which involves ‘helping’ when I am up to it, ditto with making conversation, and they don’t comment on it. Touch wood this stays.
6. Met my newest niece, a Rottweiler pup who could not sit still for a photo without licking my ears.
*Because like the moon, my marriage waxes and wanes.