The Woman Behind the Veil

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In my memory, Meena is standing in that poorly lit kitchen of hers, with a stove and a few pans stacked on a cement shelf by her head. She is making hundreds of rotis (the flat, rolled out, Indian bread that’s cooked over an open fire), wearing a long-sleeved tunic blouse with a floor-length skirt in that bold floral print that was so common with women in Rajasthan. She’s chatting away about how her younger sister is to be married soon and how she vetted the boy on the phone to make sure he had a good head on his shoulders. She’s laughing and laughing, proud that her sister is about to be married to a good man, and vigorously rolling out dough. Sometimes, the veil that she wears over her head and chest comes sliding off and she meticulously pulls it back into place and tucks it behind her ears.

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Duck Ponderings

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I spent a week at home with my family in Kerala, the bookend of my whirlwind jaunt across India in June, July, and August. It rained without pause for days on end, and I mostly took cover on the second floor of the house, in the front bedroom with the huge arched windows that perfectly framed the relentless monsoon.

One evening, I was lying in bed reading when I heard quacking coming from outside the window. There were a few animals that inhabited the area around our house – the usual crows, stray cats and dogs, snakes, but ducks? I had never heard of wild ducks. I ignored the quacking for 10 minutes before my curiosity got the better of me. I followed the sounds to the front door.  Continue reading

Coming Home

Fishermen in Rameswaram

I was messaging a friend on g-chat just yesterday, bemoaning the fact that I had lost track of my blog somewhere in the hustle and bustle of India and my persistent laziness and lack of motivation. He simply said, “Blogs are so passé.” True, maybe. I, like many other people, who had either uprooted their lives to other corners of the world or who simply wished to start documenting the quotidian and extracting wisdom from the day-to-day, started a blog for what reason I’m not sure. I think I did it as a personal exercise – to devote myself to writing by committing publicly so that my friends could hold me responsible.

My friends certainly did their job. But I failed at mine.  Continue reading

Humans of Peter Dias Rd.

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This is Prakash, or as I like to call him – Uncle-Ji. Let me tell you, this man has the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. I wish I had a close-up of them but I didn’t want to creep him out any more than I already did. I happened upon his tiny little bookshop a week ago while roaming around with a friend and was immediately fascinated by the charming shack on the side of a back road in Reclamation by Mount Mary’s Church. Made entirely out of white-washed wood, standing all on it’s lonesome on the curb, it has bright blue hand-painted words above it that say: Happy Nest Brokerage. Which is slightly confusing because he runs a bookshop not a brokerage. Continue reading

Nature, Noms, & New Beginnings

It pains me to say this, but it’s been almost 2.5 months since my last post. I could list a string of excuses, but instead, here’s what I’ve been up to as its been pouring non-stop in Bombay.

1). Leech Therapy (?). A few of my friends and I learned of the significantly therapeutic qualities of monsoon trekking, leeches, and running through the woods screaming at the top of our lungs. An unexpectedly adventuresome, mishapful day of bonding. Location: Matheran, a popular hill station and hiking destination outside of Bombay.

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The Old Women and the Sea

Today, I was a bit of an ambitious tourist. After almost two weeks of being cooped up in Bandra, it was time to stretch my legs and add a little variety to my day. I was up before the sun rose, riding the western line as far south as I could go. The Mumbai train authority did well when they chose the woman to record the station announcements – she has a really pleasant voice that repeats “next station” and then the upcoming station in 3 different languages – Hindi, Marathi, and English.  Her soothing voice combined with the city rolling past my window – Mahim and Mahalaxmi, slums and tent settlements, trash heaps and piles of cement – puts me in a sort of trance, especially at 6 in the morning. There’s a little shiver that goes up my spine, something about feeling the thrill of being back in this crazy place.

By 6:30, I had arrived at my destination – an ominous looking lane filled with trucks, garbage, leering men, and worst of all – the unforgiving stench of fish. I had absolutely no idea where I was going, but my nose could do no wrong. Follow the smell.

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