A year ago, a year after living in squalor in Delhi and seeing some things too closely, I picked the corner table in the dark Ruby Tuesday in Nehru Place. It had been one of my favourite restaurants in the US. I remember how I used to go there with a boy who was my friend and whom I secretly liked and always ordered salmon there with him. I remember one young waitress - a white girl - who wore a Celtic cross. I like Celtic culture, I'd told her. She had been very happy.
She was not there at the Ruby Tuesday's in Nehru Place. The boy I used to like wasn't there. That had been a few years ago, they were a thing of the past. I was in Delhi now. I had been in India for a year looking for something, and I had bottomed out because my time there had taken from me instead.
I ordered a dish I can't remember and took out a piece of paper from the raggedy bag I had carried as a reporting intern at NDTV. I had so much to say but no one to say it to. No one who would understand the things I had seen and the things I had understood and the things that were racing in my mind and not letting me rest. I had taken to scribbling on pieces of paper because my thoughts felt like scribbles in my mind, like bits of torn paper that even when put together were not adding up, and I continued to scribble at the Ruby Tuesday's in Nehru Place:
"I was raised in comfort. I always had enough to eat, my stomach was always full, I barely ever sweated. Then what am I doing here? This country, this nation is filthy. Have you ever looked into the eyes of the average citizen here? Their eyes are hollow, and they look back at you, asking you - why are you here, aa hee gaye tum [in Hindi and Urdu]? And why did I return? To mourn a time of my life that is never coming back. And what now? My tears have been shed, I can go back to my life, where I came from, the world where I'm never hungry or too hot or too cold. So why can't I leave? What is it about this nation of shattered dreams, shit, and piss and bacteria that is not letting me go? I can't be one of them. I never was. I am part of nowhere. But they think I'm a part of them. What do I tell them, that this isn't my life, that I have to go? Where do I go to now that no other place can ever feel like home? What now, what now, why won't you let me go? You don't know me, I'm not one of you. I never lived here before this year."