I’ve had a blissful Sunday morning. Breakfast at our local Aromas cafe, followed by relaxing at home downstairs. Reading the newspapers, inhaling the gentle smell of incense, listening to birds chirping, and then all of a sudden hearing a random Bollywood song start playing. The perfect India moment. Such simple contentment.
(The seat in the picture is what’s become of our old bed. It’s the new chill out zone).
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Up until recently, I harboured a secret. A shameful secret. I’d hit a beggar in Mumbai. Not just any beggar, but an old woman with a missing arm. And I’d hit her with considerable force. I thought that no one else could’ve possibly done something so awful. I was wrong though.
When I read this outstanding article, I realised that I’m not the only person to have have hit a beggar here. What’s more, when my friends read it many of them admitted to also having hit, and even kicked, a beggar. Yes, we are all foreigners. And vicious foreigners too, by the sounds of it.
What turned me into such a monster that I hit a defenseless old woman? I was stuck in an auto rickshaw at a set of traffic lights. My husband was with me. She ignored him, thinking, for an obvious reason, that I was a better target. She started tapping me on the leg and waving her deformed arm in my face. I told her nicely (in Hindi) not today. She continued tapping and moaning. I told her again that she wouldn’t get any money from me. She increased the frequency of her tapping on my leg. I didn’t appreciate her touching me like that, so I shouted at her not to do it. Then, I turned my back towards her to ignore her. She responded by redirecting her tapping to my head, and heavily too, with her dirty hand. The line was crossed. I snapped, turned around, and smacked her hard — even shocking myself. It wasn’t one of my finest moments in Mumbai.
It didn’t surprise me that the beggar woman didn’t seem to want to get the message though. Begging is serious business in Mumbai. [click to continue…]
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“You and I are both leading extraordinary lives,” I was told by a friend at an expat birthday party on Friday night. His extraordinary life is to work in many different countries, earn well, and then retire to a villa in the south of France.
Sounds much more enticing than my extraordinary life, doesn’t it? My extraordinary life involves living in a country that is less developed than my own, with a husband who is (shock horror, to some people) shorter and darker than me. People sometimes wonder if I’m happy, if I’m really content living like I am.
It’s a curious question because I’ve gotten used to my life. It feels quite normal to me these days, and I don’t notice such things. However, if I’m with my husband and a group of foreigners, I feel odd. Although I can easily be the part of a foreigner, because it still is a part of me, I sadly feel that I don’t truly belong. It’s not entirely who I am anymore. I’m different. These days, I’m incomplete bits and pieces of so many different things. I can say I’m Australian by nationality, BUT that’s not really me. My mentality is much broader now, I’m part of a intercultural relationship, and I live a simple Indian life. My own culture feels kind of strange. I can also say that I have a degree in accounting, BUT I hope never to use it again. So, it’s not really reflective of me.
Life was so simple when I had a comfortable, ordinary, and socially acceptable identity. [click to continue…]
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I was in my local Crosswords bookstore the other day when I came across this stunning handmade picture. Although it cost 2,800 rupees (it’s a large one), I couldn’t resist buying it. The Navaratri festival is here and it’s time to celebrate the Mother Goddess in all her incarnations. I also need to get in touch with my inner Goddess!
I know I’ve previously mentioned how much I love Indian handicrafts but pieces such as this really leave me marveling at the depth and beauty. The handiwork is just so intricate and precise, not to mention eye catching and colourful.
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“To customers, I have no name. Just Doodhwala.”
There are plenty of jokes about bored housewives and the milkman. However, the reality is much different. I can’t take credit for this article. It appeared in today’s Hindustan Times and was written by Phorum Pandya. However, I thought it was worthy of republishing for its interesting and insightful look into what it’s like to be a milkman in Mumbai.
“I visit 70 homes in Jogeshwari everyday and all the residents know me, but not one of them knows my name,” says Shiv Shankar Yadav, 32. “For them, I am just Doodhwala.” Yadav has been working at Essaziz Tabela in Jogeshwari for six years. “I will do this all my life,” he says. “I know no other job.”
Twelve years ago, Yadav came to Mumbai from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, hoping for a better life than he had farming his family’s small plot. “I miss my wife and three kids,” he says. “But I can’t afford to bring them to the city. Life is too expensive here. My job allows me to send money to them and that helps.”
Yadav’s day starts at 5am, when he collects the freshly packed milk bags from the tabela or cattle shed and packs them into the blue plastic crate tied to the back of his bicycle. He then hops on and begins his morning route, wheeling past joggers and sleepy office-goers as he weaves through narrow lanes from Jogeshwari East to Jogeshwari West, delivering fresh milk as he goes. [click to continue…]
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