Thursday, April 28, 2011

The next chapter

Chapter 1: Exile: The protagonist leaves New York and tries to settle into London. Initial nostalgia gives way to life with a new and satisfying rhythm. But then one day the protagonist confesses to London: "London, I like you. I really like you. But my heart belongs to another... [cue the Gerswin and Woody Allen's voice over introduction to Manhattan]

Chapter 2: The Grand Compromise: The protagonist makes a joyous return to New York, but in exchange accepts a grand, pragmatic compromise with these words: "New York I love you. But in exchange for weekends and telecommuting days (even months), I have promised my days to Boston." New York, used to being anything and everything for anyone and everyone, takes this in stride. The protagonist instead finds the bargain increasingly heavy.

Chapter 3: The Return: The protagonist has come to like Boston. Some days pass quickly, others slowly. [Overlay a shot here of the pages of the calendar fluttering by: 1 year, 2 years, 3 years...] But at last the protagonist has served out the partial separation for the agreed-upon period. At the appointed hour on the appointed day, packs books and bags and furniture and flies to New York with these words: "New York, I am yours. All yours."

Alternative treatment (or the Bollywood remix)
Chapter 1: The protagonist is wildly in love with New York. But the future father-in-law, who also happens to be the protagonist's boss (as happens in Bollywood films), says, "Life is not all about love. We need you, I need you, in our London office." Following duty, the protagonist settles in London, trying to learn to love the city. But arranged love proves impossible. The protagonist's heart still belongs to New York.

Chapter 2: The father-figure finally gives in, saying if it's New York you want, it's New York you'll get. But... ah the but. To prove your love of the city, you must spend your weeks in our Boston office for a period of two to five years. If you still love New York after spending all that time apart, then I'll we'll see. While growing to respect and admire Boston, love remains elusive. And every weekend, the protagonist journeys to New York and leaves with the words, "I'll come back to you one day... to stay."

Chapter 3: One Sunday the father-figure is driving by Central Park in his limousine when he sees the protagonist seated on a park bench (I know this seems unlikely, but it is a Bollywood film after all), looking downcast. "What is it child/ trusted employee?" he asks, "It's New York," the protagonist replies. "I've done what you've asked. I've tried, but every day I love New York the same as always, more if possible." The father-in-law/boss, by now sporting a salt-and-pepper goatee, puts a hand on the protagonist's shoulder saying, "You've passed the test my child/trusted employee. You'll move back to New York this summer. And to make up for the hardship we've put you through, we'll send you to Europe for two months..." [Cue the Bollywood dancers in Central Park...]



P.S. Yes, loyal readers. I'm back, back in New York. Of course, I do leave for Europe on Sunday for a couple of months, but come the summer New York will be my destination, not Boston. I did really, really like my stays in London and Boston, but New York has always been where I've wanted to live, so I'm happy, thrilled really, to be home. I suppose I'll have to change the header of the blog! Now there's a task that I'll enjoy.

It's been a source of great strength having you along with me for the journey thus far. And I look forward to more adventures together in the months and years ahead...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Becoming my father (or Paying the price)

I've been back from India since Saturday afternoon. Since then I have slept a grand total of 12 hours -- over three days. I should be feeling dead tired. I'm not. Just a little dazed, but otherwise quite functional. Though I'm not usually afflicted by jet lag, this time I seem to be affected by half of the syndrome (early rising), while the other half (delicious daytime naps) remains elusive.

My early rising (5 am Sunday, 4.30 am Monday, 3.45 am Tuesday -- noticing a trend?) somehow makes me feel like my father. Like many Indian men and women he is an early riser. For him, there is nothing more spiritual than greeting the rising sun (although not from having been out all night; that's something my father never managed to see the romance of). When we were young, he would rise early (4 am or so), and work for several hours while everyone was asleep. Since he's a doctor, it wasn't his day job that he was working on, but instead coursework from classes he would take at the university. All of those early mornings eventually got him to a Ph.D.

I wonder if he felt in those morning hours as I feel now: slightly tired, but fully alert mentally. Every now and then, my father would wake either my brother or me earlier than usual (ahem, 5 am), and would make us a cup of tea (in India, even children drink it). We would chat a bit, and then both get to work. I'm pretty good in the mornings, so, although this sounds like torture, for me it was a delicious pleasure to spend those early, intimate morning hours with my father.

They say that as you age you become your parents. Well, I'm paying the price for my travels. It's happening.



P.S. In keeping with house rules, the flugelbindery is applying its usual 2:1 ratio: for every week I've been away (whether for holidays or work travel), two weeks' worth of work is waiting for me on my return. As soon as I dig myself out from under the mountain of work, I look forward to being back at your blogs (and back to my usual sleep habits).
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