Sunday, September 12, 2010

welcome to india (courtesy of le' blackberry)

We woke up this morning in our rented rooms in the Delhi suburb Gurgaon, drank three cups of chai like the Americans that we are (we're used to such big beverages that a "normal" drink here feels like a sip, something that became a running joke last summer), watched Cayden enraptured by "All the Single Ladies" and then headed out to Cafe Coffee Day for a "thank goodness we're in a metropolitan area" caffeine fix. I asked Prati to get me an iced coffee. Their first attempt was a Frappuccino equivalent; Prati's husband Donnie pointed out that, generally, if it's not on the menu here, it's a puzzlement.

Then we were set to head back--leaving Donnie to get a much-sought pedicure :)--when the skies opened. The infrastructure in Delhi, while it's constantly being expanded and improved, is mostly sketchy, and a downpour floods the roads' potholes and indentations with an amount of water that, in the U.S., would close the road. We had walked to buy coffee, on roads that were now lakes, and the baby was getting tired and cranky. So Blonde Kim stayed to get a pedi too and Prati hailed a bike rickshaw for her, Cayden and me. Those things feel unsteady on a good day. Today, the driver couldn't see the submerged potholes and speed bumps, and I was sure we'd end up tipping over and swimming. I gripped the side with one hand and my purse on the other. We made it, of course, but shakily, passing a few roaming pigs. Kim, meanwhile, thought the salon guys didn't like her nail polish selections, since in India they indicate assent with the sideways head tilt we use to mean "meh."

Fast forward a few hours: like every other time we've spent together, Prati decided I needed a haircut. Last year, I had my hair done at the air force base where her sister lives. This time, we went to Prati's favorite hair magician, a beefy, fabulous transvestite named Sylvie with a couple little sparkles attached to her front teeth. In about five minutes, Sylvie managed to give me the cutest haircut of my life and smack my ass, this in a country where queerness is not part of the mainstream narrative.

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