The Wolfpack Files

My Life in My Words

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Motherland

In just under two weeks I'll be going back to India for the first time since February of 2003. I'd say in my life I've been to India 10-12 times, although I lost count a long time ago. Each trip has its own memories but after all this time, I couldn't for the life tell you what happened on what trip. So for the sake of a) trying to write down as many stories as I can remember and b) keeping all you entertained for a few minutes since I haven't written in a while, here are some of my India memories.

Both my grandfathers were in the legal profession, with one being a lawyer and the other a judge. When I was really young, I remember taking a trip to the courthouse where my judge grandfather was working. I can vividly picture the courtroom, which was nothing like American ones are. Maybe something special was going on, but it was a room with two judges at the front, on a raised platform, kind of like judges here are, at least on TV. But the rest of the room was filled with rows of benches where a bunch of lawyers were sitting. I have no idea what was going on, but I don't remember there being any sort of case being talked about. And the second judge was flipping through a book the entire time. I later learned he was a new judge so he didn't have a lot to say. The funniest part was that when the lawyers found out who I was, they all started kissing up to me. I was sitting in the back near the lawyers, and a few of them came up to me to tell me how great my grandfather was and all that good stuff. He laughed when I told him about it on the car ride back.

On another trip when I was in my teen years, there was an incident that to this day makes me shake my head. Now granted, I didn't go to India a lot, and in my younger years I wasn't a big fan of going. OK, I hated it. But still, I had gone a lot and even though every time I went some relative or another would pop up that I hadn't seen in a while and didn't recognize, but I knew who the major players were. On my father's side, my grandmother didn't speak English, and I didn't speak Hindi, so she and I never could talk to each other. And to be honest, I was kind of afraid of her. It wasn't like she was an intimidating presence, at least physically, but man, she had a look about her that scared me. I don't know much about her though, so that kind of makes me sad. My grandfather though, could speak English, so we had decent conversations from time to time. It was strange because he looked a lot like an older version of my father, and everyone says I look like my father did when he was younger, so I could kind of see what I'd look like when I got older. Anyway, one night I'm sitting in my grandfather's bedroom area (which was just off the kitchen) and he and I are talking. To recap: I am having a conversation with my GRANDFATHER. So in walks one of my Bua's (Aunt) and she steps into the room, looks at me, looks at my grandfather, looks back at me and says... 'This is your grandfather, do you know him?'

I'm sorry, what? What did she just ask? Did she ask me if I knew my own GRANDFATHER? The person I was sitting there having a conversation with? What the hell did she think was happening? That I thought I was talking to some random old man who walked into the room? That I was going to jump up and say 'Oh! Is that who I'm talking to? I thought he was my father in bad lighting!' The stories of this particular Bua could take up an entire blog in itself, but that moment was a classic. I wonder what my grandfather thought. I suddenly have this fear he thought 'Oh my, my own grandson has no idea who I am and needs someone to tell him!' Or, hopefully, he thought 'Damn my daughter is an idiot.'

What else... I could go into stories involving the bathrooms there, but let's just leave it with, for most of my formative years, it was a hole in the ground and with bad knees I could never fully grasp the concept.

Oh, the ghost. I'm not sure what I believe in when it comes to God or an afterlife. I know according to my religion, I should believe in many Gods and that we are all reincarnated after we die. And I'm not sure if I believe in ghosts or spirits, but I do firmly believe I saw a ghost one night. We were in my grandfather's house (my father's side) and I must have been somewhere in the 10-13 range. Their house, while kind of run down and in the middle of a lot of stuff in Delhi, was kind of cool. There were a couple of different ways to get in, but if you came in the front, you would walk into a small waiting room. Off to the right was my grandfather's study, which was filled to the ceiling with law books. And we're talking some pretty high ceilings. Straight ahead was what turned into his bedroom. Off to the right of that room was the living room, which was generally lit by a single fluorescent light which made everyone and everything look rather sickly. It was the room however which also featured a few pictures above one of the doorways. One of my father from when he was on the front page of the newspaper back home, and at least 2 of me from when I was a baby. Anyway, you continue walking into the house and you're in the dining room/kitchen area. Then out the back there was a small courtyard, which had another bedroom off of it.

Then you go these narrow, curved stairs (which, from what I've heard, I once fell down) and you're upstairs and outside. The main area upstairs was open which was rather nice. To the right, there was a sitting room, and farther down a bedroom. To the left, there were two bedrooms. OK, back to the original point of my story now that you can picture the house based on my awesome description. I was in one of the bedrooms upstairs off to the left. I remember that it was still early because everyone else was still awake, but I was in bed. It was dark out and I was lying in bed, on my left side, facing the window that lead out into the upstairs outside area. I was looking out the window when I swear upon whatever you want me to swear upon, that I saw a ghost. I'm pretty sure it was a woman, and there she was, just floating outside. No one else was around for me to call out to (I think they must have all been downstairs) but I don't remember being scared. I didn't think she was a bad ghost or something that was going to attack me. She was just there, sort of looking out for me. I looked at her for a couple of seconds then closed my eyes. When I opened them again she was gone.

I've never seen a ghost since or anything that would lead me to believe they're around, but I will go to my grave believing I saw one that night. Granted, I'm the same person who still believes he saw four girls get out of a car in Orlando, but after I create my time machine, and once I prove the whole girl thing, I think I'll go back to that moment I saw a ghost.

So in a couple more weeks I'll be back in India. Hopefully I'll come back with a few more stories, and some good pictures (now that I finally broke down and got a new camera.)