Monday, March 28, 2011

Bridal Wear

This is the Indian wedding dress I decided on while shopping in Mumbai.  While there, we got it altered to fit me; I tried it on yesterday, and I've already lost an inch on my waistline.  Will have to have it taken in again before the wedding....

Stick On Mehndi

We tried some of the instant mehndi tattoos this evening as a
possibility for the wedding. I don't think I want to do full mehndi
because it won't go very well with the Korean-ish dress I'll be
wearing for the ceremony. But I think this may work for the reception
to go with my chanya choli. It doesn't look as funny as I thought it
might.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mumbai

There is constant sound here, dogs barking, the buzzing rickshaw motors, car horns, shouts of children playing cricket in the alley, the coconut man selling his wares, his voice carrying across the neighborhood.

There is no green. No patches of grass; even the leaves of the coconut and almond trees are covered in a thick layer of dust and grit.  The ubiquitous stray dogs are all a dull dusky color, as they lay panting by the side of the road, heedless of the rickshaws zooming past, mere inches away. In this climate, you conserve your energy, find cooling shade where you can. Dogs cannot waste effort on anxiety, just as shop owners and vendors cannot waste effort on shooing them away. And so a peculiar harmony is established.

And though the atmosphere is all dusky dun dullness, there is color in the bright saris, glittering with sequins and mirrors.  There is vibrancy in the fruit sellers’ stalls—rich purple aubergines, shining scarlet tomatoes, carrots so saturated with color, they glow a shade of translucent red.

There is a simplicity to life here, bathing from a bucket with cool tap water, napping away the hottest part of the day on a thick mat beneath a lazily spinning ceiling fan.  Being here, living this life, even for just a week or so, I begin to understand the rich roots from which Amul has grown.  And it makes me love him all the more.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Amsterdam

Isn’t it ironic that I’ve traveled all over the world, but until now, hadn’t set foot on Continental Europe? And now, on my way to this next step in expanding and diversifying my family, I land here, in Amsterdam.  Those of you who know me well may know of my aversion to the Dutch.  Having grown up in West Michigan, the status quo is blond-haired, blue-eyed small town folk of Dutch heritage who are conservative and devout Christians who rarely venture far from the safe bubble of homogeniety.  And woe to any who may have the misfortune of not fitting the mold.

Wandering around the airport in Amsterdam, I felt small and out of place, like high school all over again. And out of the corner of my eye, I kept seeing glimpses of Bryan in the travelers milling around the terminal.

But maybe this is part of the journey of self-becoming.  I’ve unfolded my own family origins. I am in the process of combining my families with Amul’s. And this trip to Mumbai is a critical step in the process of defining my identity, my future. So why wouldn’t this journey go by way of Amsterdam? It has always symbolized the ancestral origin of exclusion for me.  Of being inherently different and inadequate. So I must face this land that has held such metaphorical power over me before I can move on.

And you know, throughout my entire three hour layover in Amsterdam, no one pointed accusing fingers in my direction, no one foretold my impending doom rotting in hell. And I’m made of tougher stuff than I give myself credit for sometimes.  I’m light years away from the girl I was in high school.

So. Metaphorical Aryan foe vanquished. On to Mumbai!

Oh, and I really must add that the Dutch do make some mighty fine cheese.