A First Letter Home #5

Dear Family and Friends,                                                             30 August 2009

So far, India is warm, colorful, and beautiful.  There is chaos and confusion, wealth, and poverty all intermingled in a brew of vibrant garments and backfiring vehicles.

It’s now more than two weeks and we are settled in some ways and in other ways, the shock has worn off and we are now stunned.

There are hundreds and hundreds of people constantly, each moving to his own rhythm and without conflict.  There are often six lanes of traffic (except there are no lanes) and there should be collisions all the time because people just pull out into the road and play chicken with each other.  Somehow, no one gets hurt and even I, known for being jumpy, just close my eyes and hope for the best.

I knew this trip was going to be a spiritual journey and I have prayed a bunch for safe arrival when we’re in the back of a rickshaw. Addae was especially green after one ride.

Our apartment is magnificent.  It is on the 27th floor and has a 180-degree view of Lake Powai, mountains, and city.   There are four bedrooms and five bathrooms and yet the boys still manage to use mostly mine.

The floors are marble and echoey since we still are without much furniture but the sixteen-foot ceilings and high windows give a sense of space and calm that is a relief from the city below.

The boys have slipped into their school scene without missing a beat and although they miss their friends terribly, they are practicing their Hindi and participating in all-India art contests already.  They have swimming twice a week and are really enjoying the benefit of their small class sizes for math and science.

This is the season of celebrations of Lord Ganesh for the Hindus and Ramadan for the Muslims.  Lake Powai seems to be a gathering point for all of the religious celebrating and, for the last nights, drums and fireworks abound.  “Somebody get those people a better speaker system” is my constant plea as Muslims are called to prayer on the most gravely microphone ever.  Last night, the Hindus borrowed the same failing system and sang and chanted loudly into the night.

Nothing happens when it’s supposed to and simple things like getting a cell phone end up being complicated and wrought with paperwork.  The logical is not logical and so we just try again another day.

The food is gorgeous.  It is so tasty and delicious but I have to admit, I’m getting tired of chicken.  Taj has had a hard time settling into the cuisine and in fact mentions regularly that he wants to go back to his “original home”.  For a while, he didn’t want to leave the apartment, too stimulated by the traffic, people, animals, and new things.

Robin seems to be working incredibly hard, trying to do his job and then gluing us back together after especially tricky days.

My blackness or my Nandiness seems to be a cause of great distraction to India.  People lose concentration while riding bikes and stare at me for the whole five-minute traffic light.  They stand in the elevator, facing me and do not shift their gaze for the entire ride.  As off-putting as this can be, I take it as an opportunity to get great pictures of beautiful faces, pointing and smiling in my direction.  As I turn my camera on them and then show them the picture, everyone laughs and off I go, upsetting the fragile balance of chaos in the city.

I am taking loads of photos but my computer isn’t working and we don’t really have internet on account of “unlimited service” being extremely limited. We will write soon and love to hear from you all.  We miss you and thoughts of you keep us sane.


Nandi and the boys

Copyright Nandi Bowe 2012                                Special thanks to Robin Melhuish and Donna McNeelly Burke

8 Responses to “A First Letter Home #5”

  1. Rachel Smith says:

    Hi Nandi,

    I love your marvel floor. The view is beautiful. I must say that it would be frightening for me to get out in the traffic. It seems that every thing is all coming into place. I love the pictures and appreciate you sharing.

  2. Hi Nandi,
    I’m from the class of 82 (Lowell) and Cory Domino posted your link on his site. I couldn’t help but respond to your post, because I was in Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepal for 2 months with my two kids (ages 14 & 5) August-Oct 2011. The memories are still very fresh in my mind. When you wrote about the 5 lanes of traffic, I just laughed. Because if one hasn’t ever visited that part of the world one cannot imagine staying in a place were there are no traffic laws enforced, period. I enjoyed my stay but the traffic was unbelievable.

    Paulette Price-Jeffrey

  3. Ginger Blymyer says:

    What a gorgeous apartment, It is so open and spacious, and will never be really cozy but you don’t want cozy in India anyway. I think closing your eyes if you aren’t driving is the best bet. Amazing how it all works.
    When we went north of Rishikesh we ended up in a village where the women were very shy and there I was all alone at a table where we ate. My friend had gone for a walk. A man stared at me, I was the white round being, the opposite of you and different too. He came closer and closer and was almost in my face smiling. I finally put my hand up and asked him to stop. My friend arrived soon after. I don’t know if he thought I was a loose woman because I was alone in the cafe. It was the only strange thing that happened to me like that. Maybe he was nearsighted. But you got great photos. I am so glad the boys are fitting in. They usually do. Some more than others. I remember how the girls all began really reading in the Dominican Republic on location because they couldn’t understand the TV or the Radio. It was a positive experience. I just love these letters and anxiously await each one. Ginger

  4. Bill says:

    Hey Nandi,

    How will you survive LA now?



  5. victoria says:

    AAAAAAAAAAAH once again you capture my imagination… the visuals are wonderful, they bring me closer to the subject.
    by the way, i don’t think folks were marveling at your blackness… i am sure as usual it was/is your nandiness.
    good work… keep allowing us to puruse your journal
    p.s from a previous comment… i remember cory domino!

  6. Carl Weathers says:

    Again, you deliver a wonderful view into your journey. For certain, your Nandiness is an attraction that is alluring. How could you not be stared at. I trust that this adventure will enrich us all as you continue to let us savor India through your Nandi lens. Sending loving thoughts to you and your family. Can’t wait for the next entry. Carl

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