India: A letter to India
I was so excited about returning to you. I wasn’t sure of what to expect, but so far you have not led me too far astray.
10 minutes in Mumbai — I have already had 50 rupees stolen from me by the government employee at the pre-paid taxi stand and seen two men urinating in plain view on the street, but only been heckled once. And India, that was through my taxi window so we both know that it hardly counts. Maybe you have changed since last time I was here!
But not to fear! 24 hours later I had paid 500 rupees too much for a SIM card and phone plan, been followed at length in the market by a man bent on asking me if I needed help apparently until I would relent and say yes (India, I never relent when we visit), and had to fight with a taxi cab driver about why the 120 rupees that were on his meter when I got into his cab were not mine to pay. Oh India, I have missed your warm embrace!
The one thing I can say for sure is that if you haven’t changed, I most certainly have. Being seven years older than the last time I was here seems to make me a little less of a novelty. Six years out of the sugary south and four years in NY have made me more streetwise and less questioning of my own instincts.
India, we might yet succeed at turning this love/hate relationship into a lifelong, warm, mutual affection. I am looking forward to it.
Yours (well… Sicily, Greece, and Antarctica have a part of me too, but don’t worry. I am big enough to share.),