July 19, 2021: I have fallen in love again

July 19, 2021: I have fallen in love again. With the city. When you look at the much-maligned city just the right way, you see its beauty. Driving down Casuarina Avenue, you can stop, breathe, watch the tall building. There is no dome on top like the Wachovia building. Or is it the Wells Fargo building? The horses grazing. The dark clouds of monsoon looming up. The rain came after I was on Broadway. As I drove past the Municipality Office on my left the visibility was down to zero. City Center was a haze. As I parked in front of my house, the newly tarred street looked smooth. Earlier, driving down what we knew to be Red Road, now re-named in a more patriotic way, I stopped the car and stepped outside. The air was heavy with the impending rain, and the dark clouds that only happens with the monsoon in the city hung over the large open space that offered a perfect view of the skyline of the old and new buildings in the distance, now interrupted by the needle of a building that seems to shoot out as a signal of where the city may be heading in the future. This is a real place, there is nothing virtual about it. With or without the pandemic the real place lives on. From the familiar pond in front of my uncle’s house to Hare Street, still retaining the vestiges of the Colonial past, the pandemic has touched the city with the mask, but has not dampened its character even though it is becoming clear that the pandemic is not over yet. In another city, there are frustrations building up as new mandates are put into place and lives that were about to get started are again being halted. Indoor spaces are now asking for masks. Just a few weeks ago there were signs up saying that no mask is required if you are double vaccinated. Today my son said that the mask signs are coming back. In his city. Between my many familiar places I see the unevenness of the way the in which the virus promises to test us. Offer us no clues. Almost kill at random. As I negotiated the narrow lanes of Behala and then the intricacies of the one-way system in the city, I realized that in spite of the challenges all cities pose there are things that attract us to our places. A day with no activities in Winston could still be a day when the simple pleasure of sipping on a tall glass of iced tea and watching the fire flies rise off the lawn is as lovable as getting drenched running to the car with a bondhu next to you. And the laughter that follows in the fogged out car and driving relatively blinded by the rain. It is these moments that the pandemic has not been able to steal from me. Even as it continues and the virus behaves in mysterious ways, there are some anchors that offer the stability that we all seek, we have our places. For me it has been many places – all of which offer its unique senses of comfort that helps me to navigate this time, and the times to come. Home. The cities. The deer and the cats. Familiarity. Comfort. Things to cherish as the “nth” wave of the pandemic begins to raise its head. Although Billy Joel said this of The City, I feel the same way in my cities and now I need a “little give and take.” I am in a state of mind that reflects my real place.

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