My final days in Mumbai (Bombay) included going out to see a just-released Bollywood film which was a Hindi adaptation of "It's Love Actually" featuring six different couples (all hot Bollywood stars) struggle with the ups and downs of romantic love. Not understanding a word of Hindi, I took in the atmosphere...a buzzy Saturday night crowd, loads of singing and dancing...a built in interval (intermission), lovers in separate beds (e.g. American film in the 50s) and no on-screen PDA (public display of affection).
The next day we attended an arts festival, featuring ethnic dancers, puppets, public art and fair-trade handicrafts. I felt as if I was almost home. The attending locals had the same curiosities about the presentations as I did; they were photographing the exact things I was!
Later that evening we packed up our stuff (including two sitars which we had dedicated many hours the day before in purchasing) and boarded a series of planes towards our 30+ hour return to LA. Seated next to me was a 20-something young Indian man who works in high-tech in Florida. He'd been visiting his parents who had lined up a potential wife for him to consider. It hadn't worked out in that he hoped to find a woman with a career who was open to immigrating to America. The young lady his parents had located was willing to live in America for perhaps a year, but truly wanted to raise her family near her parents in South India. The young man was clearly caught between two worlds. While he wanted to honor his parents and accede to an arranged marriage, he'd come to face that he himself had better access to the sorts of women he'd be most open to marrying. Ultimately he admitted that he would consider a "love marriage"....he just had to find the right Indian girl, ideally someone who is now living in America.
My return back home has had its own challenges. Life for me in Los Angeles is not at all as interesting as life in India. I have my patterns and my friends and my job. For a brief while I could glimpse at the uniqueness of the world I call home. The air (relative to India) is fresh and very few people are coughing and sneezing. The traffic is light. Drivers rarely honk...and the kind of mad gridlock we'd experience in the auto-rickshaws in Varanasi and Jaipur doesn't occur. LA women tend to wear muted colors--blacks, greys, and tans...barely anyone wears the hot pinks, wild turquoises and sizzling electric greens of India. And the food? I can't believe how much packaged and frozen food we eat here. In India everything we ate was fresh and freshly made. Other than downing several much-missed bars of organic dark chocolate, I'm already missing the much more delicious foods of India!