By Gitanjali Kaul
Just a drive through Noida, across the Yamuna, onward till the Ridge Road … till my destination.
It’s an oft travelled road yet, there’s something different about it today. I won’t be driving 30 odd kilometres…but driving back 17 years!
I get into my car, all excited, set the radio to my favourite frequency, don my goggles and I’m all set.
I drive through Lutyen’s Delhi remembering all those drives with Dad & Mom and my little sister. How both of us used to try and convince Dad to take the Shanti Path, identifying all the embassies on either side of the road. It was the era before car ACs became popular… so we had the windows down, the wind in our faces pointing out excitedly to all the iconic landmarks enroute …. Aah! Nostalgia!
As I drive past Sardar Patel marg…onto Simon Bolivar Marg, the years begin to fall away… first a decade… then years … then slowly months, then weeks and finally days …
As I take the final left turn, under the new Metro Airport Express route … I remember ….
When we first landed up at TAPS (The Army Public School) – in the summer of ’92, we had driven in from a one-horse town, Babina, where the tallest building was three floors high! What a sight we must have been …my sister, me and our four-year-old cocker spaniel, Chotuji, sticking our respective heads out of the Maruti Van windows, trying to count the number of floors in the buildings passing by. Dad actually called us hillbillies – dihaatis!!
Zoom ahead to day 1 in school… how I was embarrassed beyond belief to divulge the fact that my Dad was the new principal…how later in the day my classmates reacted when the truth was revealed. I’m glad to say that they never held it against me and I had really wonderful two years in The Army Public School, Dhaulakuan…
I park my car outside the gate and walk over to the registration desk. As I casually glance at the busy Ridge Road, I can suddenly see Simrit urging me to cross it …17 years ago! I, being staunchly averse to risk, stubbornly stay put until she actually grabs my hand and half pulls me across the road… and then the vision disappears in a fit of girlish giggles…
Post registration, I step inside the formidable gate and all at once I’m back in 1992, in my school uniform walking into Raina Auditorium where all my friends are waiting for me!
There is a lot of catching up to do … teachers to meet … times to reminisce about … and I step into Raina Audi once again!