It was unseasonably cold in
Prakash and I were neighbors and saw each other at all times of the week. We were never confined to the American ritual of meeting on weekends. Mostly we sat in my yard or his, savoring the spring weather, munching on deli sandwiches or enjoying an after dinner drink while it was still light out. We did that in the winter too, sitting indoors, eating pizza or hamburgers, even devouring an occasional steak. And as days grew longer and warmer, mornings we packed our cucumber sandwiches and frozen gins, put on our whites and drove 30 minutes away to suburban Oak Brook (often called New Delhi West) to play cricket on the wonderful grounds of Hamburger University (the training school for McDonald’s, which is headquartered in the suburb).
This spring was nothing like that; just cold, though the skies were blue and the sun was shining high in the sky at six in the evening. Driving to Prakash’s house, it struck me that I didn’t miss a beat steering through familiar terrain. It was as if I never left. Despite many changes,
Cold though it was, I had the car window open to gaze upon street corners and home gardens that were ablaze with sweet-scented lilac and to savor the wondrous aroma of barbecues amid freshly-mowed lawns. After a
“Why did you ever leave this gorgeous place,” my sensible self wondered. Steering the car toward Prakash’s magnificent home, the answer eluded me. Granted, we have a wonderful life in
In the early days, just after we relocated to
Over the years, my trips have become less nostalgic and more fun. Breakfast with my friends Suresh and Pappi Hathiwala; beer with Divyesh and Darshana Mehta, brave souls to toughed it out in India for 15 years but returned to Chicago in the end. Then there's lunch at my friend Arsen’s downtown Armenian restaurant Sayat Nova with my old buddies: Larry Townsend, Mike McGuire and Dan Tucker from Chicago Tribune, the daily in which I wrote regular columns; coffee with my lawyer friend Jim Genden and his Dutch wife, Alma, an art historian; dinner at buzzing restaurants with Prakash and Alice, my hosts and drinks with Satu and Anu Pitroda. When all's said and done, there's my comrade, Angad Mehta; to spend an evening with him is to be the company of Chauncey Gardner, the protagonist of the Jerzy Kosinski novel, “Being There.” Played by Peter Sellers in the movie of the same name, Chauncey’s TV-driven character was built around the axiom that perception creates reality.
With the nostalgia out of my system, I’ve grown to love
On the other hand,
copyright rajiv desai 2008