i woke up to the continuous sound of horns beeping and people on the move…

as i write this sipping chai and eating my yummy homemade, indian breakfast full of savory and spicy treats, most of you are fast asleep…

while i am still jet lagged and exhausted from 48 hours of travel, i feel exhilarated from the newness yet familiarity of it all, the organized chaos that is mumbai, and the feeling of being part of a big family…

because my parents immigrated before i was born and our trips back to india were far and few between i have always thought of myself as being a part of a small family–my mom, dad, sister and me but when i come back here, i am reminded that i am part of a huge family overflowing with aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, nephews and nieces….

i wonder how different life would have been if i had been raised with all of this family…but mostly, i study their faces to find features like mine and enjoy the crazy adventure of being part of a big family…

landing at the mumbai airport, i was greeted by the familiar smell of india…

one that i remember from my childhood–a mix of indian smells & spices, lots of people and oppressive heat…

what i was not prepared for was how different the mumbai airport now is…
before, just as the city of mumbai is busy, chaotic, hot and dirty so was the airport…
but now it is clean, new, and modern…and i found myself wondering what other changes i would find during my time here…

the best part of leaving the mumbai airport is being greeted by the galley of people waiting to greet their loved ones…and even better is seeing the hands of my dad, sister, cousin and nephew raised high above the sea of other hands letting me know they were there….

yesterday was full —

it began with a trip to a hill station (a retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city) where we spent time with my dad’s family and ended with meeting my mom’s family at the flat they have lived in since we were small–

it was familiar, welcoming and happy–lots of talking, laughing and eating…

we also managed to pack in a trip to a beautiful temple set in the hills complete with a “gaushalla”–a barn decorated with malas (garlands of mostly yellow, orange, and red marigolds) where the cows, considered holy, are cared for…

mesmerized by the color of life here and the beauty of the architecture, garlands, shrines, and paintings, i cannot wait to see and experience more…