They’re here

My parents arrived last Sunday. At Frankfurt airport, waiting outside gate E of terminal 2, I watched a parade of ethnicities and colours walk past like a Benneton ad. Mom and Dad, trailing this bunch, stood out in my line of vision. They appeared tired but sounded enthusiastic, excited to be in Germany after four years.

On their last visit, in the summer of 2008, Wife was still living in Brussels; their stay was split into three parts, two in Germany, one in Belgium. It was also a short vacation. Dad later noted, as a reflection more than a complaint, that the trip had seemed hurried, with too many places packed into three weeks. This time they’re here for nine weeks, and Dad says he wants to see more of Germany.

The initial days trace a familiar pattern. Dad observes everything keenly, and compares what he sees here with its imagined Indian counterpart. On our drive back from Frankfurt, he marveled at the greenery on both sides and added that this could never exist in India: “they would have chopped off all the forests in no time, and built apartments or hotels in such areas.” (The irony here, which he missed, is that as an engineer he’s frequently involved in such construction projects.) This morning, crossing a telephone booth on a walk to the local supermarket, he praised its elegant design and added that back home “street urchins would have smashed such an unmanned booth in no time.” Mom, following her nature, reserves all attention for her son. When she’s not trying to feed me she wants to know about my health, about that mark on my forearm (a mole, really), about the redness in my eyes (too much time in front a computer, of course).

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