pre goa

This weekend was nice for several reasons. The first and most important was because Deena met me in the train station in Dadar (Mumbai). It was the strangest thing to see a familiar face; meaning a face that I’ve known for longer than three months. It confirmed how I feel about certain friendships. I don’t keep in contact with everyone as much as I would like, and I’m sure other people feel the same way. At a certain point, the internet becomes a difficult venue to update your life on both sides. My blog, although detailed is not the information that closer friends use to figure out the ins and outs of my daily life. This is not a depressing thing though. It was nice to see Deena because it confirmed that (as I knew deep down) that friendships maintain over time, regardless of how often we “speak.” Deena has been a very proactive friend in calling every once in a while to check up on me and to plan her trip. Anyway, it was great to see her, to be able to share some of who I am here with her. It did also make me realize how I’ve changed a bit. I don’t really want to go into specifics, I’m not sure I can even articulate them, but I did notice that I’ve changed.

I’m going to backtrack to the train ride. While getting my ticket, and double-checking the train time on Saturday, I met the older gentleman behind me who was also going to Dadar. His name is Vicar. He works at the Bank of Maharashtra in Hadapsar. We waited for the train together; it was quite late in arriving. We spoke in bits in spurts; he was very interested in the Akanksha Foundation and was oddly insistent that he wanted to meet the old Director. When I explained that she moved on to Teach For India last year, he didn’t seem to care, and couldn’t really grasp that she doesn’t come to Pune. He, like many other people I’ve talked to on earlier rides, was interested to know if she was Parsi or not. I don’t know, and I honestly don’t care to know. It think it would change my response. Twice the Chaiwalla came around to offer chai. The second time I decided that I would have some, and so did Vicar. When I went to pay he asked me what I was doing, said I was their guest. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get rid of that. It’s a really nice gesture though. I appreciate it. Vicar is not from Pune or Maharashtra. This is a point in time I wish my memory was better so that I could remember where he said he was from. This ride was also nice because I slept for a while as well. I was really tired. Vicar said that he would come to the office to meet Shaheen, and offered that when I went to Hadapsar that I come visit him. A man who kept quiet the whole train ride spoke up towards the end. In perfect English he asked where I was from in the States. He’s a seaman, an engineer and has been to more places in the US and the world than me. It was really impressive. He also looked quite grumpy the whole ride but then while speaking his face lit up. That happens a lot. On top of everything is name is Fernando. It is the first name that I’ve heard that comes from a Portuguese influence. This you’ll mostly find near Goa, the only place in India that was not colonized by the English, but the Portuguese.

I brought Deena to capoeira; we got sidetracked in the rickshaw. I need to improve my Mumbai direction skills. We went to a going away party for Adam, another American who trains capoeira (from Seattle), who works in Mumbai, and who is returning to the states for 3 months. It was the first time that I’ve seen equal number of Indian and foreigners in the same room. It was interesting to see another American’s living quarters here. Mumbai definitely offers a larger space for meeting and greeting. That, or I haven’t really tapped the international community here as much as I could. In fact, I haven’t tapped into it at all.

Deena and I did some catching up, she met my friends, it was amazing to see her. It also made me more excited for my next visitors. Deena is staying and traveling with a friend so we will meet again next week when she comes back from the Taj Mahal and I come back from Goa.

The kids at Dharavi were a little messy this Sunday. When the weather changes a little bit, a bigger change occurs in children. I’ve noticed a bit of a change in the kids I work with here as well. Deena got to see the kids, we played capoeira, it was a regular Sunday. One of my favorites was not there, which saddened me a bit. He walked in about 20 minutes before we wrapped up with a sad face. Baba immediately asked what was the matter. His father didn’t let him come out and he started crying. It was amazing to see the concern on the other kids’ faces. Raju brought over a bottle of water, took him to a corner, washed his hands and face; a few other kids joined in as well. The amount of care and companionship displayed was very touching. They’ve developed quite a bond there. Vijay, a new name but familiar face, walked up to me and said, “Didi, where is your native place.” I was so shocked. He’s never really opened up his mouth before, I didn’t, and neither did Baba, know that he speaks English. He only shrugged his shoulders when I asked why he never told me earlier that he spoke English. You learn new things every day. Raju (being my first favorite) walked with me back to the car holding my hand, speaking to me slowly in Hindi. He’s a very sweet kid.

We tried a new South Indian style restaurant after class. Baba and I both agree that it was more expensive, lacked the charm of the other place, and was too cold – it was one of the first restaurants I’ve been to with AC. During our siesta back at Baba’s, Deena and I had some more quality time. It was just so nice.

I got back on the early train. I miss the capoeira in the evening, but it allows me to get home before 1am, eat properly, organize my thoughts for tomorrow, and recap my weekend for this. This train ride back was much better than the last time. I bought my general ticket but then sat in the sleeper class. Most people do this and if there is space, they’ll pay an extra fee in order to sit in the class – that is only if the conductor comes around and asks. This was the first time I had to pay the extra fee. It was totally worth it. I got my own assigned seat. Of course, as other people have done with me in the past, I shared with other people who didn’t pay. This included two college kids who provided me with two hours of entertainment. Vaibaiv and Pramod. They asked questions from where have I been, what do I do, am I on facebook, do I like trance music, have I heard of this that or the other; they made lovely statements like that I look like I’m 30, I should be married by now, I should make more money, if I died my hair black I would look younger. None of their comments are meant to be offensive (to their defense). It was really entertaining. Vaibaiv used his fancy phone to facebook friend request me. They spoke to me about their caste, and made the point to say that there is religion and caste. It was interesting to hear a younger person state for a clear fact that there are castes here.

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