January 1st. Woke up to a new year. I take my usual shower and have breakfast. First cup of chai. Everyone packs into the car and drives and drives. Buildings blend into endless golden fields with a touch of hills blending into the sky. We reach a temple, ready to send good wishes and blessings into the new year ahead. We drive more to the villages where my host parents grew up. Our first stop, to visit the new born baby. Grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and myself sit to see the bundle of joy being passed around. Second cup of chai. We walk a few meters to another building. Pictures of family members who are in the police force hang on the purple walls. All the women are wearing beautiful sarees. Third cup of chai. Driving again to another village, where my host dad Sunil spend the first fourteen years of his life growing up. Stopped at the farm land, saw a mango tree in the middle of the dust. Went to the village temple, rang the bell and prayed. Met Sunil’s second mother, who makes little animals out of cloth. I got an elephant. Fourth cup of chai. Drove another five minutes to greet old friends. It was nearly sunset, the New Year’s Day starting to close. Cows grazed and little dogs scurried away from the sound of nearby scooters. The silence was overwhelming. Fifth cup of chai. Last stop before dinner was the uncles house. He served in the army for 20 years. I held a double barrel and flipped through photos of the family in their younger days. Sixth cup of chai. January 1st ended with a great meal celebrating the grandfathers birthday, everyone putting cake on each other’s cheeks. The drive back, I felt fulfillment and gratitude for the family I’m with and for the memories to come.
Happy New Year to all.