It was wonderful to have Siddharth and Yamini from Delhi over at our new dwelling at Devashri Gardens, Porvorim, Goa yesterday. We were meeting after more than 6 years and as for Yamini, his new bride, I was meeting her for the first time. Siddharth's subject line in his email to me sending me a few photos of their visit - An Evening in Goa with Brian - inspires the title for this blogpost.
I was apprehensive as it was only me who had to host the couple since baba Dwayne (in pix) was unwell and Queenie had stayed at Dad's home in Vasco to take care of him. Siddharth and Yamini instantly put me at ease in our spanking new kitchen and offered to make the tea themselves. Not one to stand on ceremony, I gladly agreed.
I remember the time when the summers used to be fierce in Delhi and I had to haul out my cooler. I used to request Siddharth to crank it up and get it working. No matter how tired Siddharth used to be, he always obliged. In his quiet way he made a difference to all our lives. When I was scouting for a place to stay in Delhi I happened on the dwelling atop Mr. Kumar's place. What clinched the decision to opt for accommodation here was the fact that if the landlords could name their son 'Siddhartha' it was certain that they were enlightened.
Happily, Siddharth and Yamini visited us in Goa during Christmas season and the housing complex was beautifully lit up with stars, lights, decorations and crib. Siddharth asked me to take us through the apartment, while he captured it on his new Xiaomi phone. Like Santa, Siddharth and Yamini came laden with gifts. For baba they bought a set of games which was sure to keep him occupied! An exquisite chiragh in a delicately filigreed wooden lantern brought back vivid memories of Chiragh Delhi, in Delhi adjoining Sheikh Sarai where I stayed as a paying guest on the Kumar's rooftop in a barsaati for close to 10 years between 1999-2009 -- with absolutely no khit-khit whatsoever.
It was during these years that I came to meet and know Siddharth's parents Mr.and Mrs. Kumar. They treated me like their own son, and still do. It was uncle who inspired me to self-publish my first book of poems from Delhi titled Last Bus to Vasco: Poems from Goa in 2006. When our son was born on Makar Sankranti on 14 January 2011 in Holy Family hospital, near Jamianagar, Delhi, aunty was a huge support to Queenie and me, advising two first-time parents with no family in Delhi how to take on the bitter cold.
We sat across each other at the dining table with the lace-top tablecloth and reminisced about old times. Yamini rightly said that good friends are hard to find and it is good to keep in touch. I spoke to Mr. and Mrs. Kumar from Siddharth's phone. Siddharth spoke to my dad and Queenie spoke to Yamini on my phone to complete the circle of conversation. Baba of course spoke to everyone.
Siddharth and Yamini so wanted to meet Dwayne and Queenie. So today we made it a point to say goodbye to them at Dabolim airport, Goa (see pix). I had stayed the night over at Devashri Garden -- it did not seem a good idea to take on the 30 kms. at night on NH17 to Vasco with the revellers on the road. I rose at 6.25 a.m. today and sped down the river route as the sun kissed the way. We made it to see Siddharth and Yamini when they got in from Calangute at midday to take Air Asia back to the capital.
I was happy to be able to send a packet of Zantye's reputed cashew nuts for aunty, and a clutch of my articles for uncle. We also presented Siddharth and Yamini a wall-plaque with a coloured painting of old Goan houses in Fontainhas, the heritage precinct in Panjim, Goa. Since it's touch and go at the airport, I thought it would be wise to present them with a nifty white cloth bag -- with GOA printed in the colour of the blue skies of Goa on its side -- to put the cashews in.
Soon after Siddharth and Yamini reached Delhi this evening, uncle very courteously called to thank us for the time his son and daughter-in-law had at our place, and for meeting them at the airport. In his wise way uncle had counselled me yesterday, 'It is good to have possessions in life but what matters more is mental peace.'