I’m regularly told that I give a bad image of India (the horror stories and all that). Here is some of the nice stuff that I never write about. Things I like about India.
I’m regularly told that I give a bad image of India (the horror stories and all that). Here is some of the nice stuff that I never write about. Things I like about India:
- the rivers
- riding on the back of Madhav or Shinde’s bikes
- the shopping stalls near Laxmi Rd
- walking in the university campus
- going to the movies
- mad shopping binges
- kathi rolls and kheer kadam from Radhika’s
- the smell of incense and fresh coriander
- people who smile at me or compliment my dress
- rickshaw drivers who go by the meter
- chatting with people on the train
- coloured clothes and cloth
- travelling by train
- changes of plans and surprises when they go the way I want them to
- painted signs and boards
- sari bags
- krack cream
- the dampness of the air on arrival in Bombay airport
- kulfi and gulab jamun
- butter naan and butter chicken
- the warmth
- having all the time in the world to take my bath and eat my breakfast
- glass bangles and silver anklets
- reading for days on end
- children in school uniforms
- eating on the kitchen floor
- the cup of tea offered by the internet café manager because I’m waiting for the end of the power outage
- Hindi and Indian English
- negociating seating arrangements and luggage storage with fellow train-passengers
- sticking 46 large stamps on the 6.5kg book parcel I’m sending home
- the Kal Ho Na Ho ringtone on Anita’s cellphone
- sweet-smelling flowers in the night
- Hindi music in the car
- chay with milk straight out of the goat’s udder at Taramai’s
India is the country of the unexpected. A nice cancellation, a more unpleasant one, and a cup of sweet Indian tea.
India has always been to me the country of last-minute plans (like my departure for Calcutta barely two days after having met Aleika) and cancellations.
On the menu last Thursday, two cancellations — one which upset me, and the other which pleased me tremendously.
First of all, Madhav sent me a message cancelling dinner and our evening stroll in the university campus. I love Madhav dearly, but he does have a tendancy to try my patience (just as I try his, in other ways) by changing plans on short notice and and cancelling meetings I look forward to. I called Nisha and luckily, it wasn’t too late for her to include me in her dinner plans. She cooked a really nice dinner, by the way — puris and home-made gulab jamun — had she guessed that my spirits might need lifting a little?
I was woken up during the dark hours of the night by the sound os somebody coming into the flat. I was supposed to be alone with Nisha that night, as Sagar works night shifts and Shinde had run off to some festival with his fellow disciples from Markal. In my half-sleep I assumed it must be Sagar coming home early. A few minutes later I had gathered together enough of myself to check the time — it was only midnight!
I got up, and to my surprise found myself face-to-face with Shinde. His festival had been postponed by a day, which meant he would have missed my last evening here — so after some internal debate, he cancelled. We stayed up a good two hours chatting before I finally went back to sleep again.
In the middle of all that, or rather before, the chay.
I had been sitting for quite some time in front of my Internet Café during a notable power failure which seems to have wiped out all trace of electrical activity from M.G. Rd to Aundh, waiting for the message which would cancel my plans for the evening (though at that time I didn’t suspect it) or for Bijli Devi (the Goddess of Electricity) to give up her strike and resume normal activity. Sitting and waiting can become boring, even if you have stuff to write up and brightly-clad female construction workers to film on the other side of the road. As he was ordering another round of chay, the Internet Café owner kindly asked me if I would like one.
Sweet, hot indian tea in a small glass. It was nice.