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“First time in India?”

“No”

And that’s how it all starts.  I’m ashamed to admit it but each time that question arises as it inevitably does with each new person I meet here since I arrived in Bangalore a few days ago, it takes me back to the first time I was here nearly three years ago with someone else.  I had compartmentalized it away oh so neatly until now where everything is starting to emerge slowly but surely.  One by one, my senses remind me in the form of flashbacks where even the simplest and mundane things will trigger a memory.  Like tonight, some of my new friends and I decided to go out to the surrounding area to have dinner and walking through the noisy, dimly lit streets, dodging people and cars whilst minding not to step into the open drain nearby reminded me of those cool winter nights where we’d venture out to find some small cafe or restaurant that was “recommended” as cheap and cheerful in our guidebooks.

And as with every question that is answered by “No, I’ve been here before”, it’s almost always followed by “Oh where did you go in India.”  As I list down all the places I had been to in order, naturally my mind shows me a random selection of images and brief events that happened in each of these places I had mentioned.

It’s often a rare opportunity to revisit a place that has made a huge impact in a person’s life.  For me, those two months spent in the north of India three years ago was like a dream in that it felt unreal and removed from everything.  It felt as if it never happened and I think at the time we both probably knew it was not going to last – that this was our goodbye although I tried to con myself into believing otherwise.  It all sounds stupid and cheesy but I feel as if it was in another life, so far from where I’m at today.  Now, being back here and having a chance to see how much things can change in a relatively short amount of time is quite a strange feeling.  In a space of just 3 years, I had experienced a huge high, followed by the lowest of lows, up to the point where I remember asking myself if I could ever be happy again and I couldn’t remember when last I actually had a laugh or felt like laughing.  If I had go to back in time to tell my younger self the things that were to happen between November 2008 and now, I would find it difficult to believe it.

In that period, I had gone from being in India with someone who at the time I thought was not only my best friend but also someone who I thought could actually be “the one” to having my collar bone broken and then soon after my heart, starting studies in LA only to transfer back to Cape Town, then going on exchange in Spain and now having found my way back to India.  So cliched I know but time did heal all my wounds however deep they were but upon arriving at Bangalore International, I couldn’t help but think this scab is something that should not be picked at.  And although I was not a fan of the movie nor the book, after spending three months in Spain eating my heart out and experiencing the culture and now being in India again, I feel as though I am in my very own version of Eat, Pray, Love.  I know that at times certain idiosyncracies of this country will invade my memory vault and remind me of something/someone/somewhere or some event, I’m also reminded of how far I’ve come and that yes, I was able to find my high again and more importantly, my laughter.

So here’s to my very own version which I shall call: Eat, Pray, Laugh*.  I’m happy to say hello Bangalore and the South – I hope the experience will be as hot as the weather and the food…

*yes, Love as well.

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