You run to the wing, scream for joy like Shammi Kapoor and throw every possible item you can find into your many suitcases.
1 hour later, you are lugging your bags to the gate stopping every 5 seconds to hug someone goodbye. Miraculously you find a rickshaw to take you to the Front gates and once you approach those old buses that would take you away from the dump of a desert you called home for 5 months, you look around wistfully for an angel to haul your heavy suitcase onto the roof.
All done! You heave a sigh of relief and take your seat between your friend, her heavy bags and the girl you wish you didn't have to travel next to, with one last look at the sand storm brewing behind you.
You reach Delhi hours before the schedule and knowing your luck has never been good that semester, you offer to be the one who will sit at the station baby-sitting luggage while the rest of them try to pulverize the Delhi Bazaars.
Two Wendy chicken sandwiches later, you are all inside the dirty train, legs sticking out over piles of bags and turning a deaf ear to that silly gal screaming aloud about her AC compartment, you close your eyes and think of Chennai -- Home to a cup of steaming filter coffee!
By the end of the next day you can't bear your own stink. You wish you could walk around half-naked instead of in the cotton salwar-kameez. Damn the moralistic society! You check your watch every 10 minutes for the insipid train dinner- a sign it would all be over in the morning.
You wake up somewhere around 5 am to avoid the traffic at the bathrooms, brush your teeth, borrow face wash from your friend to clean the grime off your face and try your best to calm the hornet's nest of hair on your head. After struggling for 10 minutes you give up, knowing your parents would still recognise you. Somehow.
And just like that, your perception changes....you feel the wheels under you, chugging in slow motion as if caught on rolls of chewing gum. You look through the window and see the dirty Cooum spreading her fragrant arms towards you in welcome. You smile despite yourself, realizing how much you've missed it all - the crowd, the arguments, the sweet smell of jasmine and the brown teeth of the jasmine seller, the food, the constant complains about the humidity, the rush of waves at Marina beach, amma's coffee...you've missed it all. For too long.
You step on to the platform looking for those 2 familiar faces in a sea of people, cursing yourself for not being tall enough to look beyond it all and then you hear your name being called out. Against all din. And you know it. Nothing matters anymore. You're home!
Post Script: And that's how I felt when I walked into Duck's apt in San Diego. After years of floating in ether, it was home coming all over again. Thank you Dee! You're the best :)