Today, Sunday, with no classes at the Institute, I headed out to a class with Gulnaz at her studio space. She teaches at the Institute and is a very good teacher. It was 9 am and I walked until I hit a major road to find a rickshaw to class. I stepped out in this bigger road with an arm up like hailing a taxi. And like busy or quieter times in NY, it is difficult to get one. Eventually one comes but it is after many attempts and you begin to wonder. Then there is the language issue. I wrote the address very large on a piece of notebook paper so it was easy to read. The drivers are all ages, and the older ones do not wear reading glasses. So we headed out and did get to the area and then I had to walk around a little bit to find where I was going. Such an adventure without surety. On the rickshaw ride home I saw so many things that make me love being in India. First there was a camel all decorated and on the side of the road, carts with a little burner and corn in husks to be grilled, sold and eaten, pushed by usually a youth, motorcycles with a family of 5 going by, a motorcycle with two men and between them a large bag bigger than both with who knows what inside, new modern buildings of glass, marble and wood and next door old small stores with garlands of marigolds, roses and tuberoses hung scalloped across the entrance. Just a feast for the eyes–color, contrast and rare sights!
Jeanne and I were asked to lunch by another American who had a friend from Italy who called the friend of her mother’s friend. I am not kidding—-and we didn’t even know this American student well. But I find in India people are very open to having foreigners, which we are, into their homes and are lovely hosts. We were picked up by a driver in the women’s car and taken to her lovely colonial English home. She greeted us outside in her well kept gardens and invited us in to a front porch area with fans and greenery and a lovely flower arrangement on the table. She asked if we would like beer, fresh lime soda or sprite. She always put beer first and I thought she was pushing the beer, but no one took her up on it. Her 92 year old aunt arrived and her mother in a wheel chair joined us and we visited for awhile before lunch. The hostess,I will spell her name as Gulsi, not sure if I am correct. She is in her 60’s, educated in US at Welsley College and has lived and traveled it seems all over. She is about to finish a documentary film about a hospital in Mumbai that she wanted to bring attention to for its good work. So, very interesting group of ladies and we adjourned to a delicious lunch that ended with breads and cheeses and fresh cherries. I have never seen cherries in India or the leeks and asparagus we had at lunch. She said she gets them in the exotic vegetable section of her market. She lives in a different part of town than we do!! It was a lovely lunch, visit and then Gulsi’s driver took us to the next attraction which was to meet Sandeep, who sells metal statues.
I used a phone at Gulsi’s and and we were to meet Sandeep at a designated landmark, the Apollo Theater and wait for him to come there and take us to his warehouse. As I mentioned the addressed are sometimes difficult to read and find even for the rickshaw drivers so you go to a landmark area to be found. Sandeep showed up and Jeanne and I looked at thousands of metal statues for over an hour. Ganeshes, Hanamans, Shivas, Buddhas, Laxmis, etc. every Hindu deity and Buddhist incarnate you can think of and all sizes—huge to a couple of inches. And it is piled in two small areas where you pull up the metal door—we call them storage areas in the states. Sandeep has a store, but he says the stuff I like is there. I love surveying and pulling things out from under other statues. It is unbelievable how much he has in this space. He get statues for Mr. Iyengar on occasion and is such a nice man. So Jeanne and I, barefooted and stepping carefully around the small spaces, looked for treasures to bring home for self or others. Jeanne found things and I am still thinking.
Today is Krishna’s birthday. We do live on Hare Krishna Mandir Rd. Mandir means temple and the Krishna temple is across the street from our house. Neena said please come to the service at midnight. Jeanne and I are not going as we have a 7 am class and have to get up at 5 ish anyway. Neena put a marigold garland on her front door and this a big celebration for them. In past years I have been more involved. Another time I hope. So Happy Birthday Krishna, Hare Krishna! Love to you guys. Lou