So we’ve been assigned a house and we’ll be moving after Eid, the big holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. It sounds a lot like Christmas: family gatherings, huge meals and lots of sweets, gifts and general goodwill toward men, and so forth. We won’t be around for any of this because…
We’re going to India! (Er, there will probably be some Eid-celebrating there as well, but Islam is not the majority religion.) Karan and I have been planning this trip with varying degrees of seriousness since we got married seven years ago, and it’s finally happening. It’s so much easier to get there from here than from the States, and I’m pretty pumped that an epic flight and brutal jet lag will not be part of this experience.
I’m not sure what to expect, and that’s totally okay with me. I took a break from studying Arabic about a week ago when I realized my time would be better spent brushing up on my Hindi, which is meager, but I’m way closer to understanding it than Arabic. (That is not saying much at all. I wrote a whole post about studying Arabic, but it puts my ignorance in bas-relief so I’m still screwing up the nerve to post it.) A lot of people in Mumbai speak Marathi, but K’s kin speak Hindi and Urdu, so I will probably hear plenty of it. I also reacquainted myself with the Devanagari alphabet, so maybe I can read a sign or two, though Marathi has its own script as well, so who knows. I should mention that I’ve never had even the shortest conversation in any foreign language, so I’m managing my expectations on that front.
It’s monsoon season in Mumbai, and I haven’t seen a drop of rain in over two months, so that is exciting. And although I appreciate how Ramadan has made me reflect on my wanton hedonism (no sarcasm), I think I’m ready to get back to my regularly scheduled program. That is, I plan to buy a beer at the earliest opportunity.
But I’m most looking forward to meeting K’s friends and extended family. He’s met most of mine, and I’ve met very few of his, so this is way past due. I have to admit, though, that I’m nervous about socializing again. Ramadan has been lazy and quiet for us, and I’ve gotten very comfortable doing my various solitary activities and being more or less alone with my thoughts. I’ve always considered myself an extrovert, so it’s been a surprise that I’m actually enjoying this social isolation, which I will acknowledge is somewhat self-imposed. I just don’t have a lot of energy for braving the heat, the unfamiliar environs, and awkward social situations all at once. Frequent calls to the States have helped, as has knowing that things should pick up in August.
All this to say, I’m bracing myself for the crush of humanity in Mumbai. I couldn’t be coming from a more sedate, sanitized environment, so this should be interesting.
On some level I’m embarrassed to admit how much we’ve been keeping to ourselves, especially because this blog was supposed to be a window onto another part of the globe. (This was uncharacteristically ambitious, I now realize.) We have been going out and taking care of business and making friends and so forth, but we have not done much intentional exploring. Earlier this week we figured we should get out of the house, so went to the Muttrah Souq in the evening. Even though the souq is a pretty popular tourist destination and very much on the beaten path, going there made us realize the extent to which we’ve been in our little expat bubble. It’s hard to explain, but the neighborhood actually looked like a neighborhood, and the energy was both very unfamiliar and also more normal for us dyed-in-the-wool city people. Like I said: hard to explain. It was too dark for decent photos and the shops were closing anyway, but I’ll make a point to go back. It was already late and there was a very real possibility of getting lost, so we only wandered far enough to see most of the jewelry and some fabrics. I want to find the produce and the fish. And maybe get a little lost.
So! There’s my update and I am resisting the urge to apologize for this insipid report and lack of fun photos.