This is 2020 in a part of Ahmedabad City.
I was sipping chai with my father and his longtime friend in his open-air repair shop. A single minute walk away from where my father was raised.
Right across the bustling street, I saw these two Baas (Gujarati for Grandmother) engaging in another timeless conversation in their neighborhood village.
After spending a couple hours just sitting on an upside-down bucket, barefoot on definitely not so clean cemented flooring of the shop, running back cups of chai, and thinking off into the distance, I felt more free than ever.
When in India, it is perpetual tea time. Chai is 24/7. It is the life, the blood, and what connects anyone and everyone.
This is a photo of my mother, at the start of our day running errands in the old city. The man on the left running the stall is someone who has known my family for his entire life. Their establishment is right in front of my father's first home, where he was raised until he moved to the United States.
Over 35 years later, my parents effortlessly navigate through the crowded streets and discreet alleyways to show us the India they knew before coming to America. At least in this part, not much has changed. The locals see me father and exclaim about his return. Several shop owners - ranging from jewelry, to pots/pans, to perfume. From childhood, to high school, to college - their connections are ever lasting.
And that is why my favorite part about returning to India after so, so long is this. A true sight of my origin.