Friday, December 16, 2005

Arrival of the NRIs (Plus a Top 5 List)

The past 4 days have been a dizzying whirlpool of shops and relatives. I took my second trip to Mumbai, this time not to crash fancy parties, but to visit family, find bargains, and take relaxing sunset walks on Juhu beach. Those of you who know my distaste for shopping (electronics and sports equipment excluded) will sympathize with my mom for the Herculean efforts she made to get me to buy as many clothes as I did. I’ve emerged looking more desi than ever, wearing kurtis instead of t-shirts and chapals instead of flip flops. I’m even growing my hair out a bit, which is a bold undertaking, considering my naturally curly (read: afro) tendencies. This alteration of appearance comes just in time for the December NRI Invasion, when Indos from every country flock to India to enjoy the mild (no monsoon) weather. I’ve seen more friends and family from the U.S. in the past week than in the past three months, and feel strangely more Indian because of the incoming contrast. As if I’d been here for years, and others just decided to drop in from distant waters. An unjustifiable feeling, considering I’ve spent only three months here, but a nice and homey feeling nonetheless.

Most of these visitors had told me of their travel plans – only one did not, and it was wonderfully surreal when she jumped out of thin air in a mall in Mumbai. I can’t say I didn’t have my suspicions of her arrival…but while Pooja may not have caught me entirely unawares, when she did appear, her entrance was no less stunning for the lack of surprise. Her exit was just as swift, since family obligations beckoned, but I’m looking forward to welcoming her to my new hometown of Ahmedabad in a week or two.

Today I got the chance to welcome several others, greeting Pranavmama, Parulmami, Samir and Nikki in our Ahmedabad home when they awoke from their post-international-flight slumber, then picking up Viral from the airport, where he had the look of an American deer in Indian headlights (it’s his first time in India, not counting a childhood visit he doesn’t remember, so the atmosphere was a bit overwhelming). It will be interesting to compare reflections with those recently arrived, to see how the light scatters differently.

Tomorrow morning I'm leaving to go see Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur with family on a quick 3-night trip. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some laughs - here's a Top 5 List of recent quotables from the locals of India (for full effect, insert desi accent):

5. “I trust men only because I trust God.” (sign inside a Mumbai train station – can't this be read in two different ways?)
4. “Rap…oh, yah…is that where they do the yo-yo-yo?”
3. “You chose to come here, and so you got healing. You chose to go somewhere else, you might have got a pizza.” (healer at pranic healing center, after cleansing my aura)
2. “I run my business without advertisements – it’s all mouth to mouth.”
1. “Relax your lungs. Lose your eyeballs.” (among the stranger instructions from my yoga teacher)

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