It’s been almost two months that we have been back in the States, but my heart is still in India. I got a new haircut, changed my hair color, updated my make-up and wardrobe, and got new glasses (*). But my jewelry is mainly Indian. We listen to Bollywood hits in the car. Driving through the back roads of Marshall, TX on the beat of Aa Ante Amalapuram is culturally dissonant, yet tremedous fun.
My body is here, my friends and the kittens are here, but I grab onto any piece of India that I can grab. I have cooked several Indian dishes, and without fail, they were all a bust! When I see Indian people, like at the airport, I stupidly stand in front of them (at a safe distance, this is Texas after all!), smiling, waiting for them to recognize me as one of their own. It doesn’t work. I had never noticed Indian families in our neighborhood before. Either the demographics have changed, or my India Radar is more refined. Oh, the bliss of seeing an aunty slowly wobbling around, pushing a cart at Costco, with a dupatta around her shoulders!
We are in constant contact with a lot of people in Bangalore. Sathya regularly sends us text messages. He even sent a picture of the puppies! And one of a green dead snake he found on the road! We have talked to him also. He has had several short time jobs already. Our cook’s niece has a smartphone and we get frequent updates. S. got a part-time job cooking for a lady in Palm Meadows. The niece didn’t get the flight attendant job she wanted, under the false pretense that she has bad skin. She sent me pictures of her aunt, uncle and cousins. Although S. was always a ray of sunshine, with a huge smile on her face, none of them are smiling on the pictures. It’s an Indian thing, they stop smiling the second you click a formal picture, and then start laughing again. I will get to see her smile again soon, hopefully.
And our maid calls once in a while. I love it. I love technology. I remember when out of town calls were prohibitively expensive, let alone international calls. Now a maid in India calls her friend in the US, from the comfort of her home. It is always a strange and cheerful conversation, and, unfortunately, we always get cut off after a couple of minutes. Mam? Mam? Is K. How are you Mam? You breakfast mam? Sir good? Cats good? Miss you mam.
She called me one morning, it was around 6am her time, to tell me that she had had a dream that I was back in India. She was happy! I also get news from her family through her son, who is now proudly attending college about 2-3 hours from home. I can see on his WhatsApp picture that he’s growing a moustache I think. He’s becoming a man.
I have a 4×6 portrait of all of us right on my nightstand. I tell them goodnight before I fall asleep, reading Sudha Murthy and Times of India, and smile good morning to them all first thing when I wake up.
* Thanks to the dimwit optometrist at Lawrence and Mayo on Vartur. He was not my usual guy, and I knew, I just knew that something would go wrong. But Madam it will take a month to adjust to your new glasses. It’s funny how everything adjusts to you in this country. I was getting severe headaches so I went to the eye place around here. Not only was the prescription incorrect, he also sold me 6 months supply of the incorrect lenses.
Yet China is getting closer and closer, and E. is already there.