I Am From - Poem by Gayatri Bollapragada
I am from hot and humid weather and the salty scent of the sea.
I am from strong "filter" coffee and the muddy texture of ground jaggery.
I am from nose rings, toe rings, and stone-studded hip jewels.
I am from bright-green banana leaves and dried-up coconut shells.
I am from the whiff of turmeric, asafetida, and saffron in my mom's kitchen.
I am also from the mystic sound of "Om" and its sacred reverberation.
I am from intricate "Kollam" designs at my doorstep made from plain old rice flour.
I am from children playing in a dusty playground near a huge cell phone tower.
I am from street musicians on an early morning stroll.
I am from movies and daily soaps that revel in hyperbole.
I am from footwear neatly placed outside each and every home.
I am from my grandma's spicy concoction made out of a rhizome.
I am also from tall glass office buildings and splendid monuments, old and new.
I am from swanky KFCs serving curried veggie burgers on their menu.
I am from gatherings in makeshift tea shops discussing world politics.
I am from benign derelicts and "Netas" with grand political gimmicks.
I am from bazaars selling beautiful bangles, fresh flowers, and fruits.
I am from the countless daily encounters of many humbling truths.
I am from the melodic harmony of mantras and lyrical Tamil hymns that I can recall.
I am from the benign and lazy cow chewing on a painted poster wall.
I am from the delicate hand-made figurines of divine incarnations.
I am from the high-pitched hawking voices of "chai" in teeming train stations.
I am from the rhythmic bell chimes on a baby elephant tottering down the temple streets.
I am from the frequent transformations between utter chaos and complete inner peace.
I am also from glittery malls, beaches, and theaters buzzing with the young and the old.
I am sometimes from my grandfather's elaborate colonial tales, told and retold.
I am from huge billboards of larger-than-life movie stars and political personalities.
I am from the relentless honks of cars, auto rickshaws, and buses driving through meandering streets.
I am from the shrill cacophony of loudspeakers screeching out of the blue.
I am from the footfalls and friendly smiles of the milkman, the maid, and my mom's indispensable retinue.
I am from mystically soothing echoes of "Sa Pa Sa" ringing on the "Tanpura" drone.
I am from the buzz of innumerable hand-held devices playing my favorite Bollywood ringtone.
I am from the sounds of M.S, MJ and ARR and their sweet immortal music.
I am from 9 yards of luxurious and gorgeous draped silk.
I am from cricket bats and stumps, and from raucous sports' commentaries.
I am from shiny white dhotis and bright red bindis.
I am now from perky chats with friends and family living around the globe.
I am from the stereotype of a tech nerd who can conjure lines of code while chilling in her bathrobe.
I am from travels across the Atlantic and from places and people diverse.
I am from curious and familiar sights, sounds, smells and memories transverse.
I am from all of this, then and now, and I hope, much more.
And remember this is just a tiny part of where I am from at the core.
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