I have been so used to “Christmas is in the Air”, a slogan that I have come to appreciate and value in the last 10 years of living in the US. It is Christmas even in Mumbai, and it feels like there is listlessness in the air; a pervasive sense of gloom and boredom around the fact that it just does not feel like Christmas; and I miss that feeling. The glitter and glamor in all the shops, the clinking of glasses as people cheer in the festive season, the exchanging of gifts, Christmas music, the steaming hot chocolate and pumpkin spiced mocha, the decadent pastries and chocolate walnut brownies, how I miss them and yearn for that feeling of comfort during this time of the year.
There is a sense of loss that I am experiencing that is subtle, yet powerful. I don’t know if you have ever experienced it, but it is a kind of loss, a kind of grief, that does not move you to cry or shed barrels of tears, but gnaws at you constantly, like a rat gnawing at its trap to break free. That is the kind of loss I am experiencing: the grief and sadness that lingers with me and I find it so hard to shed them and break free from them.
Christmas eve in Mumbai does not feel like Christmas eve at all! Everything is just the same as it is on any other day. It’s blah! There is nothing special or exciting for this time of the year. This is my first Christmas away from home and my only solace is that this evening, we have been invited to our “expat friends'” house for a Christmas eve dinner in Bandra. It’s strange, that in a country where I do have my own family and relations, I feel more at home in the house of my expat friends ( a couple from USA/Croatia) than with my “own people.” But then again, it does not seem too strange to me, perhaps for the simple reason that this couple and my husband and I are able to connect and empathize with the very same loss, our first Christmas away from home.