'Twicities' is the title of a spam mail I just got. I was trying to think of a word that described a rather complex experience, and I realised there just wasn't one. And 'twicites' kind of covers it, if what you want to describe is the feeling of expecting a certain quality of air in a city you are going to visit and not finding it there but instead return to find exactly what you had imagined, right where you had been. It's a portmanteau word.
Delhi in early October is borderline festival time. Now is when markets get into the act, stocking up bangles and bright, gaudy clothes; now is when the smoke from chaat shops settles in the air like fine dust, and when Alstonia flowers make the air sharp with their fragrance. There's something about the light that is warmer in the day and deceptively mellow in the early afternoon, when the promise of warmth exceeds the deliverance.
But Delhi wasn't like that. Hyderabad is. No Alstonias, I admit, but the mornings come with a heavier dewfall and at 11 in the morning there's nothing more pleasurable than following that one patch of sun on the front steps and watching the goosepimples rise on your arm. Our brief winter has begun.
In three days we will leave for Rishi Valley. I haven't visited for the last 14 years and I fully expect to be disappointed. Which is why I cannot explain the excitement at the thought of seeing all the old landmarks, the old rituals of food and play and school. Of course things will have changed; what has not? I might enter every room knowing I do not have a legitimate reason to be there; there will be rooms I cannot enter because I no longer have the right to - like the lab, or the AV room, or...or...the mridangam room, for heaven's sake!
But I'm looking forward to it all the same. I imagine I will do what I used to, which is wake up really early, go for a walk before getting ready for the whole breakfast-assembly-meeting faculty routine. My son will definitely want to look at the Arts and Crafts Department and do some batik or something. I shall walk around my old haunts and mourn the ways in which they've changed (what's the point of going back to school if you can't compare it unfavourably with how it was in your time, and condemn the morals and methods of the present generation?). I shall walk and walk and walk and end the day in a state of pleasant exhaustion.
Or so I imagine. And if nothing else happens as I've imagined it, I shall come back to this post to remind myself of what a good time I had anticipating my visit.
Which brings me to one final announcement (which shall also be made separately just before I leave), which is that I will be reading in Bangalore on the 18th at the Crossword Bookstore, Residency Road, courtesy the Toto Funds The Arts, who are hosting the reading. Anindita Sengupta and I will read together.
After this reading, I'll be happy to take a break for a month before I need to travel again. Sigh.