The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I finally got around to seeing this movie last night.  I found myself writing down quote after quote because it just felt like they were talking to me, about me or about where my life is right now.

“India is an assault on the senses. It’s like a wave; resist and you go under, ride it out and you arrive at the others side.” – Evelyn in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

We have so many memories wrapped up in India. I can smell diesel fuel and I think of India. I smell a slight scent of “curry” in the air and it takes me back.  Sometimes seeing or hearing a certain type of motorbike makes me think of India. I looked at a plane today and I just longed to be on it flying 24 hrs across the earth. When you get into Mumbai’s airspace, before the plane even lands you smell this smell…it’s the smell of Mumbai. It’s pollution, petrol fumes, burning plastic/trash, BO and who knows what else.. but it always was the first signal to me that I was home.

I asked Cian the other day if we should go visit India for a week or if that was too short of time. He said “too short”.  So I need to find more time to go for a visit apparently (and according to Paul, I need to find a job so I can find the money to go!).  I keep feeling that i ‘need’ to go either now for mango season or go in July before Cian starts preschool, even though it will be super rainy and wet out. But I just want to wander around Bandra/Khar in the height of summer (April -June) heat and humidity, I want to be part of the excitement of the first downpour of monsoon, I want to watch Cian stomp puddles, ride in rickshaws again, see an elephant walking down the western express highway, see our old household help Collette, Kavita and Dilip.  I want to eat Kareems and introduce Cian to all of our favorite foods (again). And most of all I don’t want Cian to forget these smells and sounds and feelings of India. He still seems to remember some things, very random things so I want to keep that as long as we can.  One of the characters in the film said he’d not been back to India for 40 years since he grew up there. That he said every year he would go back, but then looked up and it was 40 years later. I really hope that doesn’t happen to us, but I can see how easily it can happen when you don’t have actual family members living there to ‘force’ you to visit every few years.  It really was our home for so long. It is the backdrop of Paul and I’s relationship and where I became who I am today. So I hope the promise I have made to myself about getting back there as often as we can, doesn’t end up being 30+ years from now!

“All we know about the future is that it will be different. But perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So we must celebrate the changes.” - Evelyn

Our life right now is so different than it was last year at this time. Last year we were preparing for Paul’s green card interview and staying at a friend’s place for our last few weeks in India.  I still feel that our decision to come back was the right one and was for the best, and now that we are totally immersed into LA life, it feels like home. Crazy how that can happen so quickly.  I do find myself thinking every day how lucky we are to be where we are now, that the changes that have occurred are immense and so positive. So we will continue to celebrate the changes and how different life is today than it was 1 year ago. but at the same time I can still reminisce about our nomadic life and the craziness of living in India, which leads me to the next quote I wrote down…

“There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. Only a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws.”  - Evelyn

This is something that I think I really needed to hear since I have been longing so much for India in the past few weeks. Not that I want to move back there or bring back that life, I just miss it and so many aspects of life there. This is the danger of being an expat – you find so many amazing things about the different places you live that you try to figure out ways to bring them all together and I’m not sure you really can. We are working on it, but i’m not sure what the end result will really be. We are in LA building our present, clinging on to aspects of our past with the hope that our future is a wonderfully complex and complete international landscape that bridges our time in India with our time here in the US and with Paul’s Irish heritage. An international balancing act!

Evelyn: ”Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.” Muriel: “Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.”

This has been life since we left India or even since we decided to leave India. If India taught me anything, it’s that life will work out the way it’s meant to. And as stressful as it is to go through trials and tribulations, it will all work out in the end, and if its not worked out, then you know it’s not the end (another quintessential India and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel quote). And really you have to be able to look at the bright side of things, which we do try to do every day (sometimes after we pout and wallow in self pity for a bit ;) )

India becomes part of your soul. I always heard that you either love it or hate it and usually both at the same time. It is true. India is a country of contradictions, of assaults on your senses and sensibilities and it teaches you something every day about what life really is. I miss those aspects of India. It’s too easy to live in a bubble here and forget the realities of the world, the suffering and sadness as well as extreme happiness especially in people who have very little.  India will always be a big part of who we are, but for today I will “enjoy all the pleasures of not being in India” (as a friend told me the other day.).

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