Saturday in Mumbai

Things are looking better. Of course, traffic is still an amazingly huge madness, and the two sports channels on television don’t seem to tire of showing World Wide Wrestling or replays of last weeks Cricket, nor do the other channels seem to have anything better to offer than atrociously bad soap operas or American Idol style crap, but today was a good day nevertheless. We managed to find a very interesting store full of fantastic Indian designer clothes; we found a bunch of art galleries with a mixed bag of paintings and sculptures, some of them very nice; we had incredibly good dinner at some vegetarian place (at less than $2 for the two of us), and I got myself a long overdue haircut that wasn’t any worse than anywhere else, except at a tenth of NYC prices. Well, ok, it was a little worse than usual. We also ordered two tailored shirts, and if they turn out well, I’ll get some tailored suits. The choices and prices of fabrics are simply amazing and even though Ksenia insists that the fabrics aren’t quite Italian quality, the tailors definitely seem to know what they are doing.

Ksenia definitely likes it here. Well, she keeps saying “Incredible India” is definitely the right choice of words. She already seems to have made up a long list of fabric and design stores that she wants to check out. We haven’t even been to any museums yet, let alone ventured outside of the city, but next week there will be two fairly big dance festivals to go to, so we definitely won’t be bored. The music scene seems to be very small, there’s only about ten listings in all of TimeOut Mumbai (which covers two weeks) and five or seven of them appear to be Karaoke – not exactly our idea of live music. Also, clubs apparently close at 12:30am, unless they are in a hotel, in which case they close at 3am, but we really have no desire whatsoever to go to hotel bars or clubs. Lounge bars are also not really our thing, but Mumbai seems to have a lot of them, although they are not easy to find.

The other day, Ksenia ran into some Indian girls. One of them was an English teacher who told her that for a wife to call her husband by his first name would be rude; it should be the first name plus jaar or jah or something like that, i.e. the polite form. Ah well. In other news, a woman who got raped by her father-in-law got condemed by a fatwa to live separate from her husband, since her rapist would now be considered her husband, which would make her real husband her son. Also, a young couple that, elsewhere, dared to elope got condemend by their village to leave town. I guess the fact that these things are actually reported in the newspaper would mean that they are newsworthy and unusual or controversial, and in fact there is an organization of muslim women that very strongly condemned the fatwa as a gross misinterpretation of the Koran.

Still, the English teacher will have an arranged marriage and insists that every one of her friends that had an arranged marriage is very happy. The idea is that your parents would have only your best interests in mind and that they would pick someone with your culture, background, and caste. And maybe that’s great, after all, people do want to marry someone that they have things in common with, but to have someone else, your parents, look for the commonalities and to have these commonalities be so narrowly defined by caste or clan or village seems rather … well, a little difficult to comprehend, and to see the same girl be on a shopping spree at The Mall and running around in blue jeans listening to Indian hip-hop on her IPod, doesn’t exactly make it easier.

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