I’m a walking Eat, Pray, Love cliché.
Turns out, three weeks of India was it for me. I don’t know what exactly was the turning point, but when you know its time to go, its time to go. I struggled with the shame of not completing what I’d set out to do – “five weeks in India!” – but once I let it go, damn it felt good. Guilt, fear, shame… these are generally such useless emotions. Took me about 15 minutes to decide to come visit a friend in Italy.
(Sidebar – I don’t have friends where I live. I mean, obvs my husband is my friend, and my bestie lives a quick five hour drive away but otherwise all of my friends are on the west coast. When I accepted a job in NYC in 2011 and decided to leave my son in SF with his Dad, I realized the gravity of my decision and what it might do to my relationship with my son. That was foremost in my mind. What I couldn’t realize then was how important, vital even, my friendships were. Moving away is a really quick way to see who your friends are. Yes, I get it, people are busy, not everyone calls or emails or texts or is on social media, and frankly – I was the conduit of my friends hanging out together. I loved having parties or going away for girls weekends, and making these connections. But shortly after moving to NYC, I met my now husband, and the last six years have really been about building that relationship.)
So! When my lovely neighbor, with whom I hope a friendship continues to blossom, I was introduced to a very sweet woman, a fellow writer, and inexplicably going through a similar situation where her son was living with her ex on the west coast, I was grateful. Fast forward a few years, Jennifer and I have become friends, and then she picks up and moves to Italy to be with her man. And now, hooray I have someone to visit in Italy!)
Final observations of India:
- Mumbai traffic wins for being the worst. By this I mean time spent in traffic. Oddly, the driving itself was more civilized than any other city I’d been in. I actually walked (!) places a couple of times, but taking one hour to drive ten miles is not ok. Period.
- There are loads of mopeds and motorcycles on the roads here, and very few cities have helmet laws. What’s common is to see men wearing helmets but not women. My guess is that they can only afford one for the driver, which is of course primarily a man, but not for the women or children. Yes, there are babies and little ones on the backs of motorcycles, being held by one hand of the mama, whipping down the road at anywhere from 30-50mph.
- A few more interesting cultural differences – people cutting in queue all the time, side to side head wobble meaning multiple things, and men peeing on the side of the road, everywhere.
Namaste and ciao for now!
I finally met Pritha, a colleague at my last agency, at a cute tea house. So sweet, all around.
This is random but hey, did you know yesterday, we celebrated Chinese New Year? And its the year of the dog, which is my year! Gung Hay Fat Choy! I ate at an excellent Chinese restaurant in Mumbai and toasted to peace and prosperity. (Dining alone was getting super old, though.)
So a friend of mine has a client who has a sister who is married to this guy that I had lunch with. The best thing about this restaurant (the Jamjar) was the salted caramel popcorn brownie sundae. I hadn’t had any sugar or dairy in almost three weeks at that point and while it was amazeballs, it also put me in a food coma about 20 minutes later.
You’ve seen Slumdog Millionaire, right? If you haven’t, go watch it now – both the film and the soundtrack are spot on. This is the famed CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) train station where the massive dance scene takes place. It is so large, I couldn’t get the whole thing in one shot.
So, Mumbai is very cosmopolitan compared with other cities in India, and seems to have more diversity of belief systems. I was staying in a predominately Catholic neighborhood and this – Mount Mary Church – is the most popular in the city. I’d show you a photo of the outside, but you know, seen one church, seen ’em all. But I took a shot of the inside to highlight both the baby blue walls and also the pink chandeliers up front. You can’t see but they are actually pink POLKA DOT chandeliers. God bless India, in all its colorful splendor.
I visited Mani Bhavan, which is where Gandhi spent 17+ years, including when he launched satyagraha (truth force or insistence on the truth) and civil disobedience. I like what he had to say about Democracy…
And finally, the Arabian Sea. This stretch is where people come to do their laundry and leave their trash, sadly. There are signs everywhere – ‘Green Mumbai, Clean Mumbai’ – but again, like many initiatives in India, it is a massive cultural shift that will take legislation, repercussions, and time to change.