The Wrong Girl Goes to Pune # 15

 With the exception of the lug of a guy I met from Alabama in the German Bakery, and the cows on the road that didn’t want to move, the trip to Pune was without incident.

We left six hours early to allow for any unforeseen delays and made it through the twisty mountains and the Hill Stations in the estimated three and a half hours.  There was a light rain and the air was pleasant.

When we arrived, I scouted out the Iyengar Yoga Institute and I took pictures of the yoga sculpture in the garden.  On the property, I met the retarded cousin or brother or friend who hung around greeting guests and making them feel at home.  He was warmer and more friendly than the yoga teachers I ran into inside from my classes in Mumbai.  They were cliquish and aloof.  They greeted me by name but neither spoke or acknowledged me until I went over to say “hello”.

I keep getting surprised to find “ego” in yoga. I imagine that it is a spiritual and egoless practice and that once you are a teacher, you are beyond the trappings of it.  Such is not the case.  Why on earth would it be?  We are born and live by the ego, to lose ego would be to lose self.  Alright, keep the ego but say hello to a lost soul in a new city.  Not a chance.

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Trip to the Hospital #9

We took Taj to the hospital the other day.  He was getting thinner and quieter with every trip to the toilet.  It was past time for an expert opinion.

It was Day 11 of the yearly Ganesh Festival, the culmination of celebrations and worship that had rocked the town for days.  Lord Ganesh is the Indian god who is half boy and half elephant.  He is thought to remove obstacles and is very popular in Hinduism.

There was a hush over the city as teams of women, men, and children, with idols of Ganesh perched on shoulders, in rickshaws and trucks, headed across the road to Lake Powai for the Immersion.

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Salaam Salim #8

As the taxi speeds home from my friend Jacinta’s dinner party, I get the distinct impression that I am riding through a Ridley Scott film.  Dark, damp, glistening streets, buildings in some dilapidated state of disrepair or construction.  Men huddled in the shadows around fires and dim bulbs.  Colorful women, dingy children, murky pools of standing water.

Streetlights flash green and red but the cab plows through the intersections, dodging dogs and slowing only for deep potholes and cement construction barriers.

We are going much too fast on this slick and uneven street, but the taxi driver is calm and confident, unflinching and unflappable as he blows through red lights and careens in front of rickshaws.

As is often the case in the backseat of cars in India, I have no seatbelt.  I simply plant myself behind the passenger seat so that there will be something to slow me on impact.  And then, I sit back and marvel about how far away I am from Silverlake, Los Angeles.

Somehow, I am not particularly afraid.  Perhaps it’s the lychee martinis that have dulled my senses; maybe it’s just that after having driven with “Salim the Maniac” for more than 2 weeks, something very precious and critical is broken.

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New Mom #7

My friends and family think I’m very brave to be here, to move to India, a place I’ve never been, a country I don’t know, on the other side of the world.  What they don’t know is how brave it would have been not to be here at all.

My Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis came during the Writers’ Strike and just before Christmas.  I was sad all of the time.  Prone to tears for no discernible reason and fragile beyond belief.  I didn’t know whether I was depressed as a result of the MS or just heart-broken by the sad news.

In an instant, I became too big for my life in LA and too small for it at the same time.  I was clumsy and invisible, suffocating and alone, plagued by irony and pain… at a loss for everything.  I felt like “scab” writers, desperate for ratings, were writing the story of my life.  How long could it be before I got amnesia or met an unknown evil twin?

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Civic Duty #6

“If he asked me, I’d have to sleep with Prince,” I explained plainly to my husband, Robin in our fifteenth month of marriage.  I wasn’t looking for a reaction. I was just stating the obvious.  I was new to marriage then and didn’t fully appreciate not saying everything I thought. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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Leaving London #4

Heathrow airport was jam-packed with people going to India and to the Middle East.  I already felt like a foreigner.  When a woman in a full black Burka passed, Taj’s eyes nearly popped out of his head.  Her veil was mask-like and adorned with silver jewels.  To him she looked like a Ninja.  To me, she looked like yet another person in a faster line than ours.

In total, we had eight very heavy suitcases, three carry-ons, one car seat, two rolling backpacks and one regular backpack.  There was also a rolling cooler which contained my medication, a ham sandwich, cold cuts, two kinds of cheese and an Elmo “booboo” pack.  Not to mention three grouchy kids, a leather cowboy hat, one guitar and me.

I was in my new teal, floor length cotton Target dress.  My mother-in-law washed and pressed for it me before we left as an act of love and perhaps a peace offering.  Both of us were too stubborn to apologize for the God-awful fight we’d had a few days back so we were making small gestures to try and repair the damage.

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Brad Pitt and Mumbai Beggars #3

When we first got to India and my kids were obsessed about one stray dog after the next, I gave them a little lecture.  “For every dog you see, there are hundreds of people, many are children, who aren’t in school, who don’t have toys and clothes or beds to sleep in.  Don’t forget about them, don’t overlook them.”

My then 14-year-old son Addae said, “Mom, it’s just that we feel like we know what to do when we see a dog with a hurt paw or that’s hungry.  It’s not that we don’t care about the people, it’s just that we don’t know what to do.”

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Family Meeting #2

Many of our friends and family don’t know what to make of our move to India. For 20 years, we lived in the same neighborhood in Los Angeles. We raised our three sons in that house and even birthed the last one on the bathroom floor (but that’s another story.) Our friends and family are trying to figure out why now, why Mumbai, and in many ways, it is still a mystery to us.

The short answer is that Robin, my husband of 23 years, who describes himself as devilishly attractive, stunningly handsome, smart, sexy, charming, witty, and modest, works for a company that was purchased by Reliance, a huge Indian conglomerate that owns a start-up in Mumbai. The company does the same digital restoration Robin did in Southern California, on a mammoth scale. In an attempt to ensure job security, he put his name in the hat to move to India and head the operation here. He liked the idea of helping build a company from the ground up and we were both excited about the prospect of traveling to a new country with our family.

I haven’t ruled out the possibility that we are collectively suffering a mid-life crisis and we decided to move away from everything we built in the last two decades in a desperate attempt to revive a boring and static life. It is also very possible that we have lost our minds.

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Going Native #1

This, my first posting, is dedicated to the little Indian woman who shaved me clean, and to me, the woman who still wants to believe that getting your “bikini” done is not the same thing as removing all of your pubic hair.  But, it’s kind of like the story about the man who is hit while he’s driving his car through a stale, green light.  He argues that he has the right of way.  He is right, but his car is totaled.  I am arguably right, but I’m still totaled.

    Here are the facts.  My name is Nandi.  I have three sons and an English husband named Robin.  I am a famous Hollywood Filmmaker.  I live in Mumbai, India.  I am here to discover and explore my spirituality and to share in this exotic, global village with my family.

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