An Old Sunday

**This post was from a little over a year ago when I re-moved to Bandra. It was written on a Sunday so I’m posting it. I never posted it after I wrote it and I don’t know why.

Sitting in one of the three Starbucks located in the Khar/Bandra area (this is my first time at this specific location). Not mad at it since there’s not even one step to enter, so so rare in this country. The upstairs has more seating and I’m sure it’s much more open. But here I am since it’s close to home. A good way to get out of the house, although I’d be happy sitting in my PJs in my beautiful (albeit, regrettably noisy) apartment. I had Balu come later in the afternoon today, since I woke up late and it’s Sunday. I didn’t feel like starting the day with a packed morning punch I normally throw.

The initial descent into Mumbai was as expected. My body ached but not as much as I expected it to. I slept for a few hours on the flight but the extreme turbulence made me so uneasy. At one point I felt like the plane might go down. I’ve experienced travel/plane paranoia before (see my post Old Gay Love). It’s seriously the worst. I popped a pill and eased my nerves by telling myself that it’s okay, if this was my last sleep there’s nothing I can do. The only thing I might regret would be scolding mom for some stupid shit she said before I left. God, I’m such a bitch. What’s wrong with me? Then I zonked out.

As I traveled through the airport, I noticed the newness of Terminal 2. I saw it when it first opened when I was traveling from Mumbai to Newark in 2014 but I hadn’t seen what it looked like coming to India. People (that looked Indian) took pictures by the modern waterfall. More pictures, more sculptures, more art. Mumbai’s gotten an upgrade. I made a promise to myself to make this time different. It wouldn’t be all about therapies and treatment this time. I would maintain my Americanness. It’s part of who I am. India has a way of changing you but I like the way I am. I know India. It’s not my first time. I would let myself keep up what’s comfortable to me in American and make that work here. I would bow out of some of India’s hard and fast rules.

Some things I would keep for myself included:

-I won’t entertain random uncles or people’s curiosities. It’s too time consuming and I just don’t give a damn anymore.

-Time is important. I won’t waste mine here. Productivity and using my mind for purposeful things is important to me.

-Order (almost) everything online, have it delivered, or have someone pick it up for you. I wasted so much time last I was here running around buying groceries, knick knacks, stupid shit for my apartment. In a way, it helped me explore the city, it’s people and the Mumbai motions, but it was almost always exhausting and a huge waste of time.

-Stick to 1-3 therapies locally, that’s it. People offer their opinions for everything here: from physical therapists to the best carpenters and hair stylists, I’ve learned to way I feel comfortable and my best. There is something to be said about going out of your comfort zone but listen. I’ve been to Mumbai too many times to keep going out of my comfort zone. Also, everyday at least once I am encountered with an experience which is out my realm of comfort. So let me go to Jean Paul Biguine, spend a little extra and feel at home.

Stay open, stay positive but keep in mind you have the experience behind you to know what to do. Allow your past encounters to guide you in a better, more well-balanced life here for yourself this time around. Whatever that means specifically, remember that you got this. It’s not your first time around.

You came here for domestic help, physical therapy and the lifestyle that India affords you. Mainly for the help so let them help you. Do things yourself when you can but for now, till you gain that strength back, allow Jaiya and Balu to be support system right now.

Free yourself from that fear that you have that you won’t find love or mom will be sick or that you will have zero career and serve zero purpose in this lifetime. Time is so precious but you must not be pressurized to get everything accomplished in one days time. Things take time, especially those that are worthwhile take time to flourish.

Back to my airport exit: My bags came out quickly. The wheelchair guy threw my ginormous luggage onto a cart which he wheeled with one hand and pushed me along in the other. I called Balu on the wheelchair guy’s phone. I saw Dad and Balu, Dad looked cooler than normal with his dark washed jeans and loafers. Dad? Is that you? He seemed calm and happy. I was tired but happy. I made it. No one died. I didn’t lose anything. Dad’s safe. I am safe. Success.

I didn’t talk about the apartment, brokers, anything during the car ride. Same old Innova ( no, like its old and run-down now) and same street of Mumbai. A thick layer of smog filled the skies. All I could do was watch the streets. I remember Deepali doing the same when I picked her up from the airport the last time she came to visit me. There’s so much to see. But I feel jaded, unimpressed by the outlandish nature of the streets scenes.

Side-note: why are there people crammed up in this Starbucks? It’s spilling over with people. It’s just Starbucks, people. Calm yourselves.

A breakdown of what’s inside my head: Car ride/Taj/Same people, different year/they remember me, yay!/breakfast at the Taj/owner of celestial sucks/no place to live/back to the hotel/call those brokers/apartment hunting/it’s gross living with a man in a hotel room/can’t wait to have my own bathroom/grossed out my D’s scratching /breakfast/l’amour, yes I need to live here/no monies in the banks/shit/when am i getting out of this hotel/contacting people i know here/ashok/mona/l’amour/i don’t know the answer to some of these questions.

Where art thou, good day?

They say for every bad day, you have a good one. Well I’m still waiting! Today’s formula for a bad day: health frustrations + a hungry belly + homesickness = disaster waiting to happen.

I wondered when the tears would stop. If crying is (usually) seen as a sign of weakness (‘suck it up.’ ‘big girls don’t cry’ ‘crybaby’), then why didn’t God phase out crying after early child development? I wish my tear ducts would shut down. Hoping to see that good day soon…

Burn Bollywood Burn

It never ceases to amaze me how one can start the day with a full schedule ahead and nothing goes as planned. Today was one of those days.

In preparation for the SGI (Soka Gakkai International) Buddhism meeting this morning, I prepared a small speech as per my cousin Karishma’s request, got up bright and early ready to head to Karishma’s place in Santacruz. I went downstairs expecting the driver. No-show. After a solid ten minutes I called him (‘I’ve been waiting here, where are you??”). He told me his child was sick, he had relayed the message to Balu (the main driver) but not to me. Balu had been unavailable for the past few days due to temple/family/other stuff duties. Santacruz plans was scrapped. M and I decided to head to 3F’s ‘free facial’ party, which turned out to be nothing more than a Mary Kay setup. M, always curious, tried the products on her face. The skin care representative swore these items were in the ‘same league as Shiseido, Lancome, the likes.’ It was tough for me to take the rep seriously because her delivery was so poor. The rep kept endorsing the products as chemical free and all natural. One client complained the products burned her skin and questioned the ingredients. The rep, who made is seem as though asking her what the products contained was an ABSURD and out of place question, had no idea. I grabbed the bottle and read it aloud. Definitely not chemical free…M called her out on her unpreparedness and lack of knowledge, which happened more than once. Feeling as though we wasted a good hour, we headed back upstairs. Later in the day M’s face completely broke out.

We went to Le Café (the only place in Chembur with good non-indian cuisine). The food was delightful especially with a side of free wifi. With a satisfied belly, I heading down from the café to meet M when she called my cell. She sounded nonplussed.

“The store burnt down.”

“WHAT? What do you mean?”

—a little background here—I was getting Indian outfits stitched at a store in Chembur called Ambika. 3.5 weeks ago I picked out the fabrics, gave them two of my most treasured churidar outfits to model off of, and happily went on my way. We’ve been calling/stalking the store for the past three days but no answer. Today M went stalking again only to discover trucks outside Ambika collecting ash and piles of burnt clothes from inside. Somewhere in there were my outfits!

Needless to say I was distraught; it’s not that I blame them but there was a certain level of trust given to the retail store when I handed them my (expensive) outfits, maybe next time I won’t be so confident. The store owner was confused by my anger; ‘it’s all over, nothing can be done, take the positive from it.’ Really? The man that just lost his store (albeit, he has about 10 others on the same street. Not to mention the situation seemed fishy), is consoling me over my lost outfits? I felt ashamed for losing my temper with him and apologized, but explained, “Look, I’m really upset right now. It’s not your fault but I’m just upset.” I do feel sorry for the store owner, all of his stock has crumbled to ash. I was livid but 6 hours later and a good nap, I’m semi-over it. Hopefully the poor guy can recover from the loss. My red and blue outfits (R.I.P.) had a good run,  but I guess that means it’s time for some fresh items! RETAIL therapy ensues tomorrow after PHYSICAL therapy at Nanavati Hospital. Mind, body, and soul–holistic living to the max.

Fingers crossed. X

Sangeet in Mumbai with Kad...Red One
Sangeet in Mumbai with Kad…Red One
D's Sangeet
D’s Sangeet–Blue/Gold number

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Today was the follow up for the Art of Living Course I completed two weeks ago. It was a 6 day 3 hour intensive course, involving everything from yoga, Ayurveda, pranayama techniques, meditation and basic discourse. It was so interesting and really fun to do something like this in India. The Kriya (breathing technique) takes about 25 minutes and leaves you feeling super energized. We did the follow  up at a small schoolhouse down the road from my building in Chembur. It was so nice doing kriya again,  I wish I was regular about.  I get caught up in the rules and regulations, giving myself as many excuses as possible not to do it. But I totally get the pranayama thing, MAJOR oxygenation of the muscles. Wahoo!

To top off my super invigorating-exercise-health-filled day, I went swimming at the Golf Club. I didn’t plan on going since the weather cooled down after 6PM but I just couldn’t resist that pool. I haven’t swam much since I got to India so the water felt great. We ate dinner at the GC and (barely) tolerated the slow service. It’s sad how slow that restaurant is! I also think it has something to do with M and I being two females and zero male. The service, attitude, EVERYTHING changes when there is a male presence around and it sets me off. I hate raising my voice at people but here in India its the only way to get things done efficiently and to be taken seriously. I hate the double standard and I wish it would just disappear like Sapna (our hilarious housekeeper) does when there is a lot of work to do around the apartment. Often times I see her sneak away and recite to myself, ‘And away…she…goes!’

I wrote my speech for the SGI meeting tomorrow morning and now it is time to sleep!

Noise pollution and a challenge.

AND I’M BACK. After nearly a year long hiatus, I’ve re-entered the blogging world!

I’m back in Bombay; same treatment, different year. This time M and I are staying in a 2 bedroom apartment nearby the hospital so thankfully we’ve unpacked our suitcases and settled in. I’ve been going to the same clinic, despite the crowd and other concerns. I went there this morning at 9, per usual. TM and VM left for the airport around that time. It was nice to have visitors in Bombay; I do miss the company of my friends and young folk, but I can’t complain too much because the old-people-posse I hang with is pretty hilarious.

I’ve decided I will spend as little time as possible at the clinic. I only have 2.5 weeks left in Bombay and I hate it there. In a sense I force myself to go there out of inspiration-motivation for my writing (strange, huh) and because it is where I got all my treatment done so far, but it doesn’t make the experience any better. It’s still crowded and unhygienic. The equipment is still poor and the environment depressing. M made a good point by saying, ‘The staff doesn’t force to come there. You are not tied down.’ This is so true and the reason why I decided to make my PT appointments for next week at Nanavati. I spoke with Jolly-ji’s PT lady tonight and will likely check out one more rehab center before I leave.

Outside down below on Sion-Trombay road, I hear a wedding. At least I think it’s wedding. Nowadays I assume anything loud with a dhol beat to back it up is a sign of wedding. The assumed *wedding* noise started at 4PM. It’s currently 11:02PM and only now have I experienced silence. M and I thought we’d ‘time-pass’ by watching the always enjoyable SRK in Main Hoon Na for a good 3 hours, hoping the obnoxious clamor would stop. No. Wrong. Absolutely not the case. No matter where I went this racket followed. It seemed to pour into every inch of our apartment– I went to the bathroom in hopes a few minutes of a quiet nothingness to no avail. It was even louder! Gangam Style was on repeat for the last hour until this noise-fest decided to call it quits.

I cannot express how wonderful it is to actually be able to hear the sounds of traffic that I so regularly hate! Its amazing what you can hear from 12 floors up; there is an obvious pothole somewhere outside on the road and when a truck plows over this at 2AM…let’s just say it makes for a very shaken and PO’d Sonali.

It’s been nearly 2 months ( I arrived on Dec 19th), and I’m ready to go home. As of late it’s mainly the pollution and standard Indian bathroom situation that is bringing me down. Bombay has a way of making you fall in love with it; the colors,  peoples’ warmth, the buzz of the city, the helping hands of a million strangers, and many other things. Overtime the charm fades and you’re left feeling what I am feeling now; annoyed and anger. I know this isn’t at all an accurate assessment of India and I know I love this city so much more than how I am expressing right now.
Somehow, I keep finding my way back to this mad place called India.

I RELISHED having a car for the past week while TM and VM visited–this way I don’t have to take my morning rikshaw to the clinic. It’s too dirty. Not to mention every time I enter an autorickshaw I usually face one near death experience. Today a big red bus came out of nowhere and grazed the side of  my leg.

‘Okay, THIS IS IT. This is how I’m going to die. I should just accept it. No struggles with the ‘Main Man Above’. I will leave behind all my personal possessions to older sister D…she always loved that purple dress of mine…’

So I didn’t die but I was surprised I survived. Again, love(d) those rikshaws but I’m starting to lose it. The dirt is everywhere and you can’t escape it…even if you try hiding in the bathroom…

CHALLENGE TO MYSELF: I will post everyday for the next 2.5 weeks until I leave Bombay. If achieved, (insert grand reward here)—I’m open to possible reward suggestions!

I leave you with the only reason I enjoy the occasional rikshaw ride.

WARNING: extreme cuteness below.

adorable school-kid rikshaw neighbors.