December 29, 2014 – Mumbai (Bombay), India.
I sit in this bedroom in the same building my mom grew up in. I reflect on my time during this amazing trip. I can’t begin to find the words to describe how I feel inside.
All there is left is today and tomorrow before I catch my flight back to Canada. I’m sad that I have to leave. I am happy about seeing some familiar Canadian faces. Mostly, I can’t wait to plan my return!
December in Mumbai is wedding season. It has been an ideal time for me to journey here because, my cousins from worldwide have all come. I have been blessed to meet family from North America from Europe and from Australia all right here in Asia. Some have already returned home or have left to continue their journey somewhere else. A few cousins will depart after I have returned to Canada.
Somehow, I’m filled with hope that I will see everyone again soon. Somehow, I’m sure I will explore more of India sooner than I know.
I feel incredibly blessed and humbled by the last few weeks I have spent in this indescribable city. I came with expectations and illusions of how the city would look and smell, on what the food would taste like and how the weather would feel, how the music would sound; these ideas based on the descriptions given to me by films and my family in Canada who have been here.
Truly, I didn’t fully know what to expect. Yet, somehow when I got here, there was no culture shock. It felt like I belonged… Though, it wasn’t at all what I had imagined.
The colours are more vivid, the food is much tastier, the clothes are more comfortable, the weather is much nicer, the people are more loving. Mumbai is busy and crowded and smoggy and dirty even… But, I LOVE IT! The crowds are full of smiles and the smog doesn’t make my hair frizz out.
From what I understand, India has 3 seasons… Hot Season, Rainy Season and Wedding Season. Everywhere you go, lights are strung up, the sound of drums fill the air and horses carry grooms around. Cows fill the street corners. And ladies in sarees fill the streets. Sidewalks are filled with jewelry, purses, trinkets and clothes all for sale. If you’re lucky, you might find a dancing monkey (I finally saw one last night). But, when it’s owner tries to chase you down the causeway, you may have to take refuge inside a Puma store.
You may find a beggar who amputated his arm… The next day, his arm has returned but, his leg is missing. Sometimes you’ll find a mother trying to feed her child. Sometimes you’ll find that she has a master and has rented the child to help her beg. It’s incredibly heart breaking. My heart wants to give them everything try ask for and more. So, it’s best to buy them food instead of giving them money. I’ve been trying to do that for the stray dogs I see. One store charged me for a coffee just so I could buy the paper cup. Then I paid for a bottle of water so I could give a stray some water and my veggie samosa. He had a broken paw. He didn’t even want the food. 😦
I ended up giving the samosa to another stray dog who lives in the parsee colony where I have been staying for the majority of my trip.
Cricket is everywhere. I went to the museum of modern art where the whole exhibit was based around a cricketeer’s life. His name was Sachin. It was nearly 5 floors of artifacts from his life.
Juhu beach is beautiful. Again, vendors will surround you with tempting foods and delights. They will insist that you try their henna tattoos. But, it’s usually best you don’t give in. The water is usually contaminated and the foods insanitary. So, I kept my visit short and sweet. Bandra is home to Bollywood stars and studios and has an ocean front view that is to die for. Marine drive is the lookout where lovers meet. Everywhere you go, there is something to see and something to do!
Have mentioned how incredible my family is? I have never felt so much love or seen so much generosity in my life. I have never experienced such a spiritual feeling until now. That moment when you meet someone of your own blood for the first time or even 2nd and 3rd time and you can instantly feel the connection. It’s as though the relationships have been formed long ago and no time has passed since you were last together. Some of my family are my 3rd cousins yet they feel like brothers and sisters.
There’s so much to take in. So much to experience. For most of this trip I have found myself struck by my own silence and shyness because, I can’t find the right words to explain how amazing it has been. If you ask me how my food is, almost always, I simply say, “delicious” because it is. In the car, my eyes are glued out the window and I sit speechless at all there is to see. So, to all those reading this who have experienced my awkward silences… I’m so sorry! Haha. I don’t know what to say. This has been the most cultural experience of my life. Thank you!
I can’t wait to return. I can’t wait to drag my sister and my brother here and hopefully my dad too! So much has changed since he has been here, I’m sure.
But, my bags are packed. I’m not fully ready to go, I hate to say goodbye, so, instead I’ll say that I’ll see you again some day. But, please God, grant my family the power to tell me what they want from Canada. Or somehow, I think I will only have a suitcase of cheese, beef jerky, bath and body works, black hair elastics, more chocolate with marzipan, my sister (outside of the suitcase) and a larger appetite! Thank you, India! I’ve had the time of my life.
Thank you to my amazing family who has shown me such incomparable hospitality. I’m so blessed to have all of you. I love you all from the bottom of my heart. One day, I hope to give back to you, even half of what you have given me. Your generosity has filled my heart and your yummy food has filled my belly with an additional 16 pounds at least!
Dear Canada, I’ll be bringing back a suitcase of memories and keepsakes. We’ve also shipped 7 kilos worth of masala home.. So, who is up for a cook off?! I bet, I will win!