Homogeneity makes for healthy milk but anemic friendships. We need relationships that cross culturally imposed lines to enlarge our hearts and expand our vistas." -- Dan Schmidt
Mumbai. It's an energetic, complex, and pardon the cliche, a masala of a destination. Oldways mix with the new and create something else entirely. Knowing my time here was limited I signed up for a private tour with Mumbai Magic. This decision made at the last minute will now be added to the best decisions-in-trip-planning list. It was fate and luck that I eneded up with Deepa, the company owner as my guide. As a result I not only received an insider's view of middle-class Mumbai but also perspective and understanding, something that would take me several long visits to gain. Deepa gave me insight into religion, textiles and sari history and also made me see things about how we may appear different culturally we share a common bond through our connection as women.
We also shared a love of food, culture, creativity and our thoughts on what we want from ourselves and life. It was a special day.
Deepa also blogs. This post, "The choices women make--an Indian viewpoint" offers an incredible amount of insight in understanding our sisters here in urban centers in this country. How much does this sound like a Western point of view too?
At the end of the day she shared with me the other side of Mumbai--Dharavi. I hadn't expected to see this first hand. My only understanding comes from Shantaram (someday I'll stop talking about this book!) and from the National Georgraphic article, Dharavi | Mumbai's Shadow City. Only through Deepa could I get a new perspective. No it isn't all a happy story. There's no running water so the air is heavy with human stench. She warned me that she had nightmares. I did have nightmares last night. But what I did see was a community that works. Women taking care of their children while working in small cottage industries such as pottery and pappadum making. A man preparing a dessert in two big steel pots outside the Hindu temple for the evenings final night of prayers (Sunday was Krishna's birthday and Monday was the final day of prayers.), shared a taste.
So thank you Deepa. You are a generous, compassionate sister. The gift you gave me through the sharing so intimately of your family, home, city and it's communities has left its mark on me and I am forever changed because of it.
Note: If your travel plans include Mumbai or other points in India look up Mumbai Magic. The company is socially-pogressive and is making a difference in young teens lives in the cities they service.
Ed. Note: the computer at this internet shop is old and this is the third time I've written this--spell check crashes explorer...onward and excuse grammar and syntax. I need to pack and get to street food, kebabs at Bade Miya before 9:30pm. The 24 hour + transist begins at 10pm tonight!