India is very sticky.
Sticky whether it’s the persistent and thick humidity, which engulfs your entire being, tormenting your hair until it resembles a dry, stringy corkscrew bush and moistens your face and hands until they glisten like oiled tiles in the hazy sun
Or whether it’s the sweet strain droplets of mango seeping a saccharine pathway down your wrist and taking up residence around your lips as you suck a cold alphonso dry
It’s been several days since I last updated and much has happened.
Let’s just say my India experience this time around has been several galaxies away from what it was when I was here for my semester abroad. Though I am currently living what can be best regarded as an opulent and luxurious lifestyle, it makes a legitimate standard for understanding and analysis to have lived and experienced opposing ends of the spectrum.
It is still India after all, and that damp, earthy smell is impenetrable whether on the terrace of a highly guarded bungalow in Bombay or living in a molding hut in the deeply rural hills of Karnataka.
In an attempt to not turn this post into a novel, the past week has consisted of a mélange of dining at fine 5-star-hotel located establishments (no photos, sorry, it just seemed WAY too much of a faux-pas), receiving incredible olive oil head massage/conditioning treatments, touring Bombay from the inside of an air-conditioned vehicle, meeting and chilling with Nazneen’s supremely hospitable friends (seeing X-Men, kicking it at hotel rooftop lounges such as Dome, having it Monsoon on top of Dome mid-sip), meeting up with my stylish friend from Delhi (Tanya) and her Milan fashion-school bound friend (Prakriti) for a night out and some shopping at Palladium, getting lost and driving around Bombay LATE at night, feasting on Naz’s mama’s AMAZING Parsi cooking, kicking it with all of Naz’s family and friends while she interns inhumane hours for a Bombay theatre production of Sound of Music, and most recently heading to the nearby hill station town of Khandala with Delnaz (Naz’s sister), Gitu (her cousin), and Shelley (Gitu’s mum) for a peaceful weekend away from the horns, honks, and utter chaos of Bombay.
Khandala is around two hours outside of Bombay, up in the slightly cooler hills- unfortunately a lot of development (and thus litter) has begun to engulf the town. However, Naz’s family has a lovely bungalow in a quieter part of the town which Delnaz and I stayed at for the weekend.
The maid there, Heera-bai cooks delicious yet simple Indian fare (and the best Roti/chapati/fulka I’ve ever had). When we arrived on Saturday we mostly hung out with Geetu and Shelley at their bungalow right across the street (or rather across the dividend of mud-puddles flowing with mud crabs and guppies). We played Scrabble, chatted, and ate all the delicious fare that Heera bai and Parvati (Gitu’s maid) laid on the table for us
Gitu’s maid, Parvati is quite a character. She’s a ferociously feisty old Marathi village lady whose children’s names all rhyme (such as Anju and Manju or Ganesh/Mahesh/Umesh) who ties her sari as if she’s ready to run off and fight- I wish I had been able to photograph it from the back so you can see what I mean, but when I asked if I could take a picture of her because I really liked her sari her response was (as translated from Marathi), “WHAT? This ratty old thing? If I knew I would have worn a better sari! Let me go fix my head!” and she galloped off into the kitchen to cover her head with the sari:
Me: Bumming it in the hills sans any semblance of make-up or hair upkeep, Parvati looking TREMENDOUSLY more docile than reality
In the afternoon, Heera-bai’s son picked up Delnaz, Gitu, and I in his auto-rickshaw and took us into the nearby town of Lonvala to run a few errands. Lonvala/Khandala are interestingly enough quite well-known for their fudges and chikkis (a fudge-like stuff made of nuts). The BEST place however is Cooper’s, a small corner stand which regularly sells out of their hot, fresh fudge. Of course we had to make a stop and stock up on the chocolate walnut variety for Naz’s mum, and for our own tea-time enjoyment. It was divine no joke, and fresh and a much softer and more aerated texture than American fudge.
Other town errands included: Gitu purchasing some brune (a block-like chunk of crusty Parsi bread), Delnaz and I picking up two pomegranates and a papaya from the fruit bazaar, and at my failure at finding any chewing gum, stocking up on mango tic-tacs
Alley in Lonvala:
And a little restaurant which looks just as tempting as it’s name, n’est-ce-pas?
On Sunday, we returned to the bustle and hustle of Bombay- a metropolis of over EIGHTEEN MILLION PEOPLE. I’ve got to run now (or more like go put away my freshly ironed undergarments and cocktail dresses and hit up the bookstore at the Taj Mahal Hotel for some postcard-shopping) but stay tuned for more updates the next time I’m bumming around the house still in my pyjamas at 1pm
Lots of love from India