Lassi with Lavina Image of the Day – Mehndi in Manhattan

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Mehndi in Manhattan

Mehndi in Manhattan

Lassi with Lavina Image of the Day – Mehndi in Manhattan

My initial feeling when I spotted these very Indian hands laden with gorgeous red wedding bangles and mehndi was one of disorientation. I must be in a Bollywood movie or at some Big Fat Indian Wedding. Or at least in a street in Colaba or Kalbadevi! But no, I was not even in Jackson Heights or any ethnic enclave but in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Look at this image carefully and you see the tall skyscrapers of the Big Apple reflected in the glass of this bus shelter.

 

Mehndi image on a bus shelter

Mehndi image on a bus shelter

This Apple ad splashed on the side of a city bus shelter,  with taxis whizzing by and New Yorkers rushing to work made me wonder what Westerners thought of it. Probably not much, as mehndi is so much a part of western fashion now. Just another bit of exotica, like Thai orchids, Pashmina stoles for $ 5 with roadside vendors, and Halal meals at the truck stops!

It does make you feel good though that America is getting multi-colored, rainbow-hued and open to all the unique bits and pieces of the world, in spite of Trump. In my stretch of First Avenue, there are Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and even a Cambodian restaurant, not to mention four Indian restaurants including a real live Moti Mahal (as in Delhi) and also a dosa place. Yes, there’s even a small grocery place called of course, Ganesh Groceries! As for threading parlours, owned typically by Indians, there are scores of them. Our ancestors could never, ever have imagined that Amreeka would be like this!

As I go for my daily walk up the avenue, it somehow gives me a sense of ‘apnapan’ or belonging, of ownership, of it being my city. Yes, there is even yoga – with Americans still trying to get the hang of it. I always pass this poster in the window of a bank, of a white male trying to do a surya namaskar or ‘namaste’ as the sign calls it. I just have to smile when I see it!

 

Surya Namaskar, American style

Surya Namaskar, American style

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Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. Twitter@lavinamelwani & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

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