Thursday, March 8, 2012

Divas 189: "They want to spread smiles."

What a day!

Feeling too happy to sleep last night, I finally reached my limit at 2am, and so arose leisurely at 9 this morning. After giving Priya and Mama a tour of my room via Skype and enjoying idlis and dosas (yummm) for breakfast, I started unpacking my things.

After breakfast, Shivanjali Didi and I embarked on a drive around Mumbai, hoping to see the celebration of Holi in full swing. I was told that it would be dangerous to step out of the car, what with the dyes (and any projectiles available, really) being thrown in every which direction by those celebrating. But actually, today was remarkably calm! Due to a new police initiative to make Holi less rowdy, we could scarcely trace a group here and there shuffling by, wearing garments splotched with color.

Despite this disappointment, I received a wonderful overview of this diverse city. Mumbai reminds me of Rio in a lot of ways, and there are stretches where the two could be twins.

Above: Rio de Janeiro, Below: Mumbai

We drove through the city and got off in old Mumbai to take some photos of the historic train station and Municipal Corporation. What a sight!

Later on, we stopped at Flora Fountain as Didi wistfully regaled the days when bargain book stalls used to abound in the area.

We cooled off with some coconut water and strolled around the Gateway of India while clicking more snaps.

Headed home, we heard that Gaikwad Auntie and Uncle had been caught by some Holi-ers while we were away, and entirely covered in color! How ironic -- we could have witnessed the fun had we stayed home! Shivanjali Didi and I, did, however, catch a glimpse of the end of the festivities in our complex, escaping from a color attack just in the nick of time.

After a mouthwatering lunch, Didi helped me register for a ten-day course in Vipassana meditation taking place at the end of this month. To read a bit about the method, click here. Can you believe it? This blabbermouth blogger will be silent for a full 240 hours! I keenly await what promises to be a challenging and deeply rewarding experience.

In the afternoon, I padded around my room and briefly chatted with Priya before writing her a letter on life. You can click here if you are interested in reading my sisterly advice.

Then, guilted into exercising by the sight of a treadmill, I hopped aboard. Perhaps I'd work out more often, though, were I always to have a view of cranes in a mangrove forest nestled next to a million-citizen slum.

When I cooled down and returned to my room (with which I am in love), Didi dropped in to tell me about the work she is doing to redesign the ICICI Fellows Program. The philosophy and anecdotes she shared with me kind of blew my brains, and I just might have to apply for the program in a few years.

We shared an afternoon snack of homemade samosas (I have never eaten so many), after which I started to transcribe some of the results of yesterday's brainstorming session into my new planner for Mumbai.

At some point in the day, I also talked to my grandfolks. My energy level is waning steadily, but my enthusiasm is not. I love this city!

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