Yellow suitcase

The big suitcases have come out of hiding. Opening them and laying them out on the floor is when the excitement begins. Before this specific act, there are people asking me, are you excited? I say a half hearted yes, to not disappoint the excitement in their voice. But, it really kicks in when the packing starts. Counting the number of days equal to the number of dresses/clothes I need. Add two for buffer. Pick out the dresses/clothes and stack them neatly. Then I see a bunch of them need to be ironed. I diligently iron them. Then the night clothes and essentials. Again equal to the number of days and two for buffer. Once the clothes are decided, then come out the pouches from hiding. Each pouch will serve a purpose. Medicines, makeup, jewelry, daily needs. Then there is the matter of footwear. I start planning footwear way before I pick my clothes. One footwear that makes sense and will go with all my clothes. A simple, comfortable pair of shoes. Somewhere after the footwear and before the clothes, comes my checklist on my phone. Randomly watching TV is when I start building the checklist. Once everything is laid out on the bed, a day or two before the departure date, all these carefully handpicked items move from my bed to the suitcase. Then it is a countdown feeling. Two days from now we will be at this place, doing this or eating this. That is when the excitement kicks in slowly.

The checklist is checked top to bottom and bottom to top, just to be sure. Everything in order, and we get to the airport. Once there, every aspect of mundane life recedes to the background. It is excitement and anticipation of the time, the boys and I will get to spend together 24×7, exploring, joking, laughing, discussing, wow-ing and taking in all the sights the place has to offer.

I guess this euphoric feeling of seeing the big suitcase coming out is something that has grown with me since I was very young. My family owned a yellow VIP suitcase. It was a hardcase, the top came down and there were metal snaps, that you pressed to shut them close. This is before suitcases had zips. What the current generation would call ‘Retro’. There were number locks, I dont remember if this particular one had a number lock. The inside covering was a golden yellow machine embroidered cloth, I think. Maybe my love for yellow started then. That suitcase coming down from the seven foot almirah meant we were going from Bangalore to Kerala for vacation. Lack of time and money stopped my family from taking vacations to new places every year. Those did happen once or twice, but vacation meant boarding the Bangalore-Kanyakumari Express from Bangalore Central Reservation on Sleeper Class tickets to Shoranur Junction. We got off there and took a bus with this yellow suitcase to my grandmother’s place. After a few weeks there, the suitcase went with us to Kannur, to my paternal grandparents place, filled with more uncles, one aunt and a handful cousins. A ‘fewer’ weeks there and then the suitcase boarded an overnight bus to Bangalore. Somewhere towards the end of maternal grandmother’s house and before the paternal grandparents house, my father joined us. My father preserved a lot of things. The original magazine covers from the 1970’s where my mother’s picture appeared on the cover. In the pile of junk I cleaned out, I found my 9th grade report card. My boys saw my marks in general knowledge and added it as a weapon in their quiver (smh). One thing I did not find, is the yellow suitcase. When I was small, the yellow suitcase seemed big. I guess now that I am big, it wont be bigger than a carry on. I dont know, I never will.

There are things in our life, objects that remain memories. We don’t have pictures that our eyes can see, but stark images in our mind, stored forever. Like the blue metal folding chairs in my house, which I don’t know how many times I must have opened and folded. The gas stove that my father bought, many many years ago, that didn’t need a lighter, the knob had ignition built in, This one I don’t have to imagine, because my father still used it until his last day. It was waiting for him in the kitchen when I went to clear out the house earlier this year. There are so many objects that we use everyday, but they slip away with time.

If there was only thing I could do in my life, that would be to travel, to every nook and corner of the world. I believe there is so much to see, so much to experience. So this time, the suitcases are out, getting filled slowly, as we jet set to the UK, checking off a place that has been on the boys and my bucket list for many many years now. The excitement, like the bubbles in a glass of champagne making their way to the surface. The suitcase is not significant looking. A dark teal colored companion I bought earlier this year to accompany me on my journey of the world. Let’s see how many places she and I will see together.


I had started earning money, still living with my friends, but I could afford a phone. Before this one of my friend had a phone, she kept my track of text messages and phone charges. We paid her for using the phone. Everyone was working hard, so I would have probably done the same, if I had a phone and let me roommates use it. On one of my visits home, I told my father, I needed to buy a phone. He took me to Burma Bazaar. We went to the basement floor and asked for mobile phone. They showed us a few models, including the Nokia 3310. It was over my budget. So I settled on a blue BPL mobile. All it could do was send/receive text messages and phone calls. This is the same place he took me like 3 years before that to buy me a Walkman – a personal audio cassette player. BPL was a trusted brand then, and Burma Bazaar was like a black market, I guess.

It was a beautiful phone, it looked different from the Nokia models. I used it to call and text my boyfriend extensively. We fought, we loved, we missed each other. The phone was a welcome relief in that long distance relationship. I used that phone till I left India in 2004. Back then, you used something till you couldn’t use it. If it broke, you tried to fix it first before replacing it. It worked till I left India. Moving to CA, my company gave me an LG flip phone. Man, that was a grand upgrade. Flipping the phone open to take a call and talk, it was classy. Flip phones changed, but remained flipped till I left US in 2012. I wasn’t given a blackberry at work, because I don’t qualify for one.

2012, in India is when I got my first smartphone. Samsung galaxy note 5, I guess. As the batteries died on me, I moved to a newer model of Samsung. I remember the Apple users poking fun at me, like using a Samsung phone made a second class citizen. In 2019, I switched to the iPhone. Today, I hold a 14Pro as I write this post.

As phones evolved my connections to people evolved. The number of people on my contact list increased. Back then there was only one group of friends, they were called “Friends”. Today as the storage capacity has increased there are groups of friends. Friends I will call anytime, friends from work, friends from the past, social media friends, favorites.. Yet one thing remains, those 5 or 10 people whom you laboriously loaded on the phone Address book back then, are somehow the same people on your favorites list today. The “go-to” people. A couple may have been added along the way, but by far the list remains the same. Some dropped along the way.

I was walking around the T-mobile store earlier today and saw a flip phone. I opened it and thought, wow! I’ve come a long way.


Have you sat on your couch and listened to the silence around you? It’s almost 8pm where I am, I look out the window and the leaves are dancing after a rain. I don’t hear birds, I don’t hear the wind chime. It’s absolutely quiet. Pin drop silence. The only noise in my head is the search for the next word I need to type. the sky is a blue-grey. If I hit the letters on the screen of my phone, I can hear a faint tap. Other than that, it’s silence, outside and inside.

It’s my zen state. There is no place I need to be, there is no task I need to be doing, there is no expectation of me. In this moment I am transported to the pool in Mexico where I am floating aimlessly, my face towards the sun. All the noises around me are hushed and all I hear is silence.

Last night, as the movie “96” ended, I started crying. In the past when I have watched this movie, I have cried, because the story has similarities to my life. Yesterday, that wasn’t the case. As the closing credits rolled, I cried like my chest was about to burst. I wanted to scream, “Appa died”. It’s been 7 months since he left, and yesterday it hit me. Not sure why. But in those tears I let go, of him and of all the men and women who failed me. I let go of all the unhappiness of forty four years. Is that even possible, you ask? I don’t know, I am just finding out. This morning it was raining when I went to drop my son to school. On my way back, the skies cleared up and as I turned onto my street, I saw a ray of the sun, shining brightly. As I searched the skies, there it was, a beautiful rainbow. I felt cleansed.

I can still hear the silence. It’s a kind of peace I have never known. The world is just as it should be and my world is just perfect.

Little red seeds

I got back from India about three weeks ago. I was there for twelve days. I traveled to five cities. I met so many people. People from as young as eight months to people in their eighties. These are people with whom my paths have crossed at some point in my life. People I have not seen in twenty two years, twenty years, eight years, six years. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, most importantly I felt loved, every moment I was there. These are my people, they have all played a part in where I am today.

It is common knowledge that when an Indian born living outside India, goes back to where they reside, depression sets in for a few weeks. I had heard of this, but this is the first time I experienced it. I went into depression, the real stuff, where I don’t have an appetite, I am sad, but not really sure why, I don’t have the drive to do anything. All I want to do is lay somewhere and look at something mindlessly. I tried to wake up from this slumber, but I just couldn’t shake it off. During this time Grey’s Anatomy came to my rescue. 18 seasons on Netflix, that’s what you call a treat. I was glued. Three days of winter storm, at the end of it, by lower back started hurting, because I was on the couch for hours, escaping my depression.

This morning when I woke up, I decided that I will not watch another episode, until I empty out the suitcase I brought back from India. It has been lying in my living room, open, with undergarments, unused sanitary pads exposed. I simply did not bother. I walked by that suitcase everyday, many times a day, yet it was like this thing, that if I went close to, would burst some bubble and I would gasp for air. Today, as I was talking to my mental health clock (she keeps me in check, almost everyday), I picked up some hangars from my closet and started pulling out the dresses one by one. Each one had a memory. I remembered when I wore them, with whom I was, the happiness I felt. It was draining. I found the photographs, that I had taken out of an album I found in my father’s house. The ones that didn’t have any meaning, my friend held on to those, the rest I found, today. I got that old plastic bag with the heap of one, two rupee notes, that I found in my father’s steel almirah, of forty something years. That almirah is like a person who lived with us, since when I remember. I finally ransacked his secret compartment while looking for property documents. He never let us open that compartment, because his valuables were stored there, lenses, cameras, his salary. I found so many old lens filters and gave them away to his friend. A very long time ago, when he came back from one of his official trips, he’d brought me a purple glitter pencil, where you remove the used lead and push it back at the top of the pencil, so a new lead emerges out at the writing tip. He never gave it to me. I found that pencil and took it. I found old coins, 1 paise, 2 paise, 3 paise, collector’s stuff…

As I took them out one by one from the suitcase, I found the kolhapuri sandals, that my friend and I bought on Commercial street, bargaining, a skill neither she nor I like or know anything about. We went into those shops, looking for oxidized jewelry, I found those as well. One by one, they all came out. Lying around the suitcase in hangars, piles, organized by where they will go, in my closet. At the bottom was a red Tommy Hilfiger pouch I received as a gift eighteen years ago. When my kiddo was one, when life was simple, when everything was happy. I opened the pouch and found those old coins, the oxidized jewelry, the fancy stuff I took from here, but never wore, and among them scattered were the little red seeds I had packed in a tissue.

My besties and I went to a resort for a day. A day where it was just three of us in some tiny corner of the world, talking about everything and anything. As we walked on the grounds of that resort, we saw a little red seed on the ground. I got excited. My friend looked up and said it was a tree of the little red seeds. She and I picked the seeds, one by one, like little children. She gave me a handful which I tuck away in my pocket.

It wasn’t the clothes that I was pulling out of that suitcase, it was the memories. The friend and her family who opened her house and her arms to me, my father’s friends from even before I was born, who made me feel that he lives on in our thoughts, the eight month infant, who looked at me with her big round eyes, like she knew me from another life, the aunt, who couldn’t say a word, but in the end, took my hand and kissed it, my little buddy whom I taught ‘see you later alligator, in a while crocodile’, my friend who tears up every time she seems me or lets me go an epitome of what affection is, the family, the love, the happiness, the warmth. I was pulling out each one of this from the suitcase.

As I always say, depression is real, depression is hard. There is no way around it, but through it. As my therapist says, one foot in front of the other, baby steps. The light will seep in through the crevices. It always has, it always will.


As the wind chimes sway

Making sweet sounds of harmony

We will dance to the night

In perfect rhythm

You and I

It’s a void without you

I feel you yet cannot see you

Happiness like I’ve never known

In the simple things

Lingers on

I reach out

And the wind chimes sway

Echoing in the silence.

They tell me to let go

I hold on

To us

To hope

Stretching to see

If you can hear the wind chimes…

One day

One day my love

You will return to me

And whisper love in my ears

My hands will sit comfortable in yours

And your arms around me

We will hear the rain in the depth of the night

As our warmth wraps us

One day my love

My heart will dance again

And know only happiness…