Sunday, September 16, 2012


In the normal course of events, "unexpected" typically causes much consternation or, on occasion, surprise; a flat tire, a dead battery, a new project at work due immediately, an unexpected gift.  In my life it has never been the return of someone from my past.

That has been the case until August.  "I think I might know you... its been a long time.. You might remember me... Honesty not trying to be creepy.. forgive me if this comes across that way..."  Out of the blue a message appeared on Facebook. To say it was unexpected is an understatement.

A flicker of recognition.  I knew that name a long time ago.  Memories of long conversations.  His angst, my pain, music, life, friendship, common bonds.  Memories of pouring out the pain I had while he offered an ear and a solid shoulder.  Giving him advice as he tried to manage his tumultuous life.  As quickly as we bonded, we drifted apart.  Our lives taking different paths.

More than a decade later, he was back with a simple message and details.  Undeniable that we'd known each other back then.  Facebook messages back and forth.  After determining, he wasn't a psycho stalker, an exchange of cell phone numbers and we were off to the races.  I joined the world of unlimited talk and text.

Three, four weeks of daily texting, I've really lost count.  Thanks to the most ridiculous work schedule I've even encountered, an actual call at least once a week.  Yet, there seems to be no lack of things to discuss.  I'm not even sure what we talk about all day long, but we do.  Lighthearted conversations, deep conversations.  I've been humbled and scared, nervous and anxious, insecure and doubtful, tongue-tied and shocked, happy and joyful, amazed and bewildered with every word that has left our fingertips or mouths.

It's sometimes amusing how things happen in my life, but I have to say this has been the most bemusing, confusing, and utterly AWESOME event that's occurred. 

So here is to the past that started it all,  the amazing present, and the unforeseen future.  It just goes to show that when you least expect it, the unexpected can happen.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

A Smile...

A smile, something which takes minimal effort, but has major impact. Big smiles, little smiles, miles of smiles. Smiles, the one thing that's universal. It doesn't matter where you are, a smile says so much.

I've always known that smiling could make a difference in someone's day. On my most recent trip to India, I got to see the impact. One of the sweetest people I met on this trip was our driver, Dilshad.

There he was, waiting every afternoon. Quiet, seemingly shy but listening to everything. For the first two days I didn't know his name and that bugged me, but I was usually riding in the back, letting other members of the team ride shotgun.

However, we finally had a weekend to play tourist and that's when we found out his name and smiles became a regular occurance amongst all of us. We'd walk up to the car, "Good Afternoon Ma'am" and a smile. He'd pick us up, "Good Evening, Ma'am" and a smile. We ran him ragged over the weekend; however, he was nothing but smiles.

In that week's time, I learned more about him, about his family. He shared pictures of his wife (soon to be at the time) and his niece. He saw pictures of my nephews and my niece. We slowly became friends over the week.

It's rather funny, our conversations. We talk once a week. These chats turn into Hindi lessons, discussions about life, how his family is doing, how my family is doing; and while part of me is a little jaded because I know he would like to come to the US, I am hoping that time will flesh out his sincerity in being a "friend".

9000 miles away and he can tell if I am upset or disturbed, as he likes to say. 9000 miles away and he's cracking jokes so I will laugh. I know he wants a better life for himself and his new bride. It is my hope that his future is as bright as his smile.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Art of Mehendi

Mehendi - one of the most beautiful art forms I've ever experienced. Traditionally applied to brides (contrary to rumor, I did not get married in India), this mehendi was quite different from the Arabic style I had last time. This was so intricate, almost lacy in appearance, yet it took the ladies approximately an hour and a half to complete front and back of the hands and forearms of two people.

There is something so striking about these designs. It was all free handed by the artists. Absolute creativity. I am told the darker it is, the better. These pictures were as it was being done; however, on me there are parts of the palms that get nearly black. Nearly a month since having it applied, the darker spots on my palms have faded away completely today (5/25).

I am not someone who likes drawing attention to myself, but I do love the attention I get when I am adorned with such incredible art.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Deja Vu

Ahhh what a day and night; highly reminiscent of my first trip to Mumbai. Because Christina had never been to India, I wanted her to experience some of the same places I had been afforded the opportunity to experience. So we hit all the old familiar places and I saw all the old familiar faces.

And how lovely all those faces are...some of those that were with me the first time, weren't there this go round. Jimmy couldn't make it. Manish, who is no longer part of the team, couldn't make it. However, Dipesh, who left the company in January, came back to say hello. We did have some new faces: Farida, Kiran, Ajaz, Asif, Sneha, Vijayendra, and Mahesh.
Returning for the fun was Palak, Prashant, and Charlotte.
Colaba Causeway and Leopold's were just the way I remembered. It was hot outside, but the beer was nice and cold. The snacks were tasty. The sellers were bargaining and selling, the vendor in front of Leopold's still had the glass lamps that I love.

The walk to the Gateway was amusing as we stopped at food cart so the gang could buy something stuffed into what looked like green leaves and for some, whose names I won't mention *cough Palak and Prashant cough*, to buy smokes. Then I was nearly trampled by a horse and carriage. However, we did make it to the Gateway unscathed.

It's such a massive, imposing structure. But beyond that, the crowd there was HUGE. We clicked all kinds of pictures. Granted it wasn't Bollywood Nights like last year, but there we were with our teams smiling and laughing. There is something about the Gateway to India that draws me like moth to flame. I could sit and stare at it until the dark of night. But we had places to go and things to do. So we moved along.

Marine Plaza, the seawall, lights from the stadium where the Mumbai Indians were playing. What a great time. We sat around chatting for a bit. I actually at some street mangoes with something sprinkled on it...let's just say I ate it very carefully. A lady with her monkey on a leash. Vendors selling silly things. Someone bought the flashing horns. They were really cute. Shortly after the horns, I was give a strand of the most fragrant flowers to wear in my hair. Brides wear these flowers and the scent is supposed to be seductive to their new husbands. I can tell you the smelled amazing.

As the night was drawing to a close, most folks when home but 5 of us went to Koylas. Oh Koylas, I have been dreaming about you since September. It was every bit as good. Sure, I missed some of the folks from the last time we were there. But the food was still amazing and the company delightful.

Just when you think it couldn't get any better, Charlotte talked us into Sukh Sagar. Devine! Mangoes topped with a whipped cream...could have eaten a dish by myself. There is just no way to describe it other than perfectly delightful.

Then it was time to drop everyone off and say goodnight. It was another great weekend in Mumbai. The city never fails to fascinate me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

There and back again...

I returned to India in April nearly 7 months after my first trip. What a difference 7 months makes. Things have changed in that span of time and I have had to make peace with all of it. I cannot say any of the changes have been easy to accept, but when it's out of your control, there isn't much you can do.

Had a great trip this time in Business...sure beats where all the commoners are, I mean coach. Wheels on the 'Bus (Airbus that is) went round and round then touched down and the water works started. I have no idea why. Maybe the 25 hour trip (door to door) finally got to me. Maybe it was traveling alone; which in a way, was a great thing. Maybe it was the odd Indian man with his Celine Dion fetish for "Because You Loved Me" who was snapping, clapping, and chair dancing. Maybe it was the odd sense of returning to a place that felt almost as good as home.

Breezed through Immigration and Customs towards the moment of truth, stepping outside the airport. Hit with an immediate blast of humidity and heat. A glance around at the people lining the barriers. Drivers holding sign with hotel or personal names. I find the Renaissance sign and deja vu. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome is asking my name while the driver is taking my bags. A quick jog, and I do mean jog, and I'm at the car. He cranks the A/C, settles the bags in the trunk, and hands me a bottle of cold water. Thank you!

And we are off.

The sights, the sounds, the different but so familiar. Horns, crazy drivers, throngs of people, wandering dogs, and my cell phone which has picked up service but won't let me dial home, and then we are turning up a familiar road. It's still lined with rickshaws and dogs. Nearly there. We're at the gate and this time there is a beautiful brindle boxer "bomb" dog. "Good evening, ma'am" as my door opens and shuts. The gates open and we drive through. Yes, I know this place well. A left turn and we're making our way up the drive to my "home" for the next two weeks.

I am greated by a lovely lady who tells me that they have been waiting my arrival. I am skipping check-in at the front desk and going directly to my room. Before that happens, I am given a traditional welcome and get smudged with red powder on my forehead. A welcome letter from the general manager, a voucher for a free beverage. My suitcase brought up. A call to room service. A call to let my family know I was there safely

Oh Bombay, I fell in love with you last year and I am back. Back to soak it all in, back to see my friends, back to work my fingers to the bone, back to try and make a difference for my teams. Back to meet and love the people you put in my path. Back with open arms to embrace all you send my way.