From LA to Mumbai – Discovering a City, Self …
About a year ago around this time, I came in from LA as a hesitant new explorer to India and everything Indian. I marvel at my own willingness to “embrace” change and optimism that I channeled into whatever I did or said. Even the exchange I had with my sister when she called from back home to tell me (again) that I was “nuts” to waste my summer trying to discover an India long gone, the India of parents who’ve passed away….
In my defense, it was only my third day in India and I was living in a five star hotel at the time.
11 things You Didn’t Know about India
I had yet to find out, among other things…..
- That heat-stroke is real, so is heat rash. Just from being outdoors!
- That cockroaches DID inhabit the earth looooong before mankind and will outlive us by many years by hiding out in India.
- That dirt is universal…sometimes lurking, just out of sight.
- That when Indians do the ubiquitous head-wobble it means “I hear you”…. nothing more.
- That “day after tomorrow” almost never comes – be it a deadline for a product or service.
- That Bollywood or it’s other rebellious younger sibling, the Independent Indian Film Industry (read “Indie” films), is a strange beast, at best. No further comment at this time.
- That attitude towards women in a work – or play – environment, may sometimes be stuck in a time warp, ordained by men who imagine themselves to be 50’s style fictional characters from American television.
- That the phrase “Don’t Worry” is just a figure of speech and that is exactly when you should hear alarm bells in your head. It clearly means – do worry and run like hell!
- That in a country that gave birth to the Vedic concepts of renunciation and simplicity, a lot of people are preoccupied with appearances to the point of obsession and…
- That being known as “un-Indian” (which also passes for being “westernized”) and material evidence of bloated wealth is what sustains some people most of the time.
- That “green” is a trendy word, just another color in a crayon box, so to speak.
Mumbai Meri Jaan – Monsoon Time…
Mumbai Love – It’s like an Old Marriage – For Better or For Worse
When I got off the plane in Mumbai toting my still un-scuffed Brics bags little did I expect to become anything other than a “visitor”. Least of all an “expat” but then India has that effect on you, of slowly pulling you into the relationship even as you learn to live with each other’s stuff – the good, the bad and the downright smelly. Much like an old marriage – for better or worse
As for the question “why be here?” one may be tempted to ask it perhaps every third morning as the sun rises over a murky ocean off Carter Road and the light hits the Fabindia curtains on “my bedroom” window.
Maybe it’s because Mumbai’s “party like it’s Friday night” atmosphere every evening sweeps you up, leaving little time to be home-sick.
Maybe it’s because the strangely cloying personal attention one faces everywhere one travels, though overwhelming, also sweetly flatters at times.
Maybe having household help is not something to be scornfully dismissed as a feudal concept altogether (it does generate employment). Some days one may reply, robust and rebellious, or one may choose to be silent. Silent but not defeated – not yet.
Funny is the 360 degree slow turn, least of all the realization that if you slide your window open at night, to listen to the rain as you drift off to sleep, you’d better not go for fancy handmade fabric curtains. Tussar shrinks – darn it!
When the ships of the British East India Company touched port in Calicut, little did they know they were to remain, for over three hundred years. Who did know? Well for one, the poet Tagore did. He wrote – ‘They will give and receive, blend and mix, but will not return….” (rough translation).
The Bard of Bengal knew.
Actress/writer Tori Roy came from across the Pond (England). Now lives in Los Angeles, a SoCal native for over twenty years. She is currently travelling and living in Mumbai, India. A Meisner trained actress, Tori started on the Shakespearean stage, has acted in several modern stage productions and written screenplays. Don’t be fooled by the native British accent, she speaks fluent Hindi and is trained in Classical Bharat Natyam. Little known fact: Indian screen actress Suprova Mukerjee of Jean Renoir’s crossover film THE RIVER (1951) – was her Great Aunt. Tori can be reached on her blog at [email protected]
Being Single in India