Made in India

Re: blog post about my terrible, awful, no good, very bad day? Well, the good finally came and I cashed it in, literally. I begrudgingly went shopping with M yesterday to a store in Santa Cruz West called Raas. My physical therapist at Nanavati suggested I check it out after telling her about fatal ending of my old churidars (fire in a fabric store…read ‘Burn Bollywood Burn’). We walked in and I immediately picked up a yellow number. I perused all the racks, handing M each outfit I liked to model. It must have been one of those ‘lucky’ shopping days because everything we found, we loved. The workers were so friendly, the place was clean and best yet, they FED US. The manager ordered us Swastik sandwiches (famous pressed toast sandwiches–say a lightly pressed panini–with tons of spices inside). I needed small repairs done on my necklaces from NY and Raas led us in the right direction. Magic I tell you! It was one of two extremely successful shopping days here in Bombay.

I went to the changing room to throw on an outfit I thought my sister might like. As I was changing, my eye caught the inside label of my *American Eagle* shirt, ‘Made in India.’ I couldn’t help but cringe because I spent 40 USD on that sucker, which I could have easily gotten ‘Made in India‘ for 5 USD. Note to American Eagle: stick by your brand name! Make your damn clothes in America.

After all the saris-suits-salwar talk, my head was spinning. A day of total materialism. I needed some food for thought. I decided to strike up a conversation with Balu the driver about Guru’s in India. Friday morning, M and I will be going to meet a Guru; there are signs plastered all over Chembur’s roadways, probably the whole of Bombay, promoting this event. I asked Balu if he had a Guru. He adamantly denied this and went on to say that he believed it was all BS. M, Balu and I all put our two cents in about the Guru topics; I shared my all-too-familiar story (amongst my friends in NY, at least) about the Naga Baba in Rishikesh. When I went to meet Naga Baba, (a naked guru-type-healer-of-sorts) he was immediately offended I didn’t touch his feet upon arrival (this is seen as a sign of respect in India). He then argued that because I was female, I was not allowed to touch him. I told him about my medical condition. He sensed an accent and asked where I was born.

His response: ‘American? Hahahahahah. No help for you. You come from land of the monsters. You are monster’ –loosely but accurately translated

I shared this and other details about my naked scary man-guru experience in Rishikesh with Balu. We all enjoyed a good laugh, Balu at my young attempts to tell the story in Hindi, M that I agreed to see an old naked man, and me of my ridiculous life.

It was smooth sailing home, the streets were empty for kilometers. I forgot to mention Bombay was on strike yesterday. Yes, that’s right, on strike. I asked Sapna, our housemaid, how she came to work since she travels only by autorikshaw or footpath. She said the autos were running, no problem at all. Huh? But Bombay is on strike! Apparently Bombay-ites are as lackadaisical about going on strike as they are about being punctual. It was kind of amazing. Still, despite the attempted strike we got to experience the rare pleasure of driving sans traffic. I loved the open road. Inside, I wished Bombay was always ‘on strike’.

10 Lessons from an uncle

  1. One can earn suitable money at a job, but mastering the art of multiplying money is the key to becoming rich
  2. Give love, get love
  3. Drink at night to forget the day (does not an alcoholic make?)
  4. Forget the day but remember the exact price of everything you own (ie: 5000 rupee shoes)
  5. Calling someone your girlfriend means you have a strictly platonic relationship (hmm…)
  6. In the end, you take nothing with you (amen)
  7. Eating garlic is a cure-all
  8. Spoil your kids rotten then blame them for it
  9. Never trust women
  10. Always be positive

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…

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!

Holi Crashers

After the Lakme Fashion Show last night, a scenic drive over the Worli-Bandra Sealink, and spicy veg quesadillas, I awake excited for the day and my morning exercise routine. The clinic was crowded, but it was nothing compared to yesterday’s crowd. Each time I enter the rehab room, I can’t help but feel extreme gratitude; the room is packed with sick individuals and their family members, desperately in search of good health and yet they sustain a tremendous amount of faith. I can understand the nature of the patient’s movements; from the outside looking in, it may appear like a circus freak show, but it’s where I feel most at ease with my disease.

As I continued my exercises with the therapist, an old lady came over and pat my leg. She wore a generous smile and spilled out a few words in Tamil. The PT translated for me: “God will bless you, my child. You will not be overlooked.” It was a brief but touching encounter. ‘You will not be overlooked.’ How powerful is that?!

The traffic in Mumbai is killer. 20 minutes of shopping in Santa Cruz = 3 hours of your life. In a car. With barely any shock absorption.

I stretched my legs in the courtyard of the Golf Club (my temp residence during my stay in Mumbai) and I engaged in small talk with an Uncle. This led to an invitation for M and I to attend the Mittal Estates annual Holi Party tomorrow afternoon. He raved about the Punjabi Mutton, the 4 DJ line-up  and his newly married 25 year old daughter. I agreed that it all sounded fabulous and I’d certainly be in attendance.

4 DJ line-up and 5 acre property aside, I’m looking forward to some home cooked food. Pictures to come!