A final gift, a little wisdom:
My last afternoon in India, heading back to Mumbai from Elephanta Island (another amazing Shivan Temple, known as the city of caves) after a good hour of history and Hindu philosophy instruction from Shilpa, who has been my guide for my two days in Mumbai. Shilpa’s main gig is teaching and researching in the tourism department at Mumbai University (550,000 students) but I was lucky enough to learn about Mumbai and a bit of her philosophy over the last two days.
On the hour long boat journey to Mumbai, Shilpa is chatting to a friend, who is joined by another, both also independent guides. The subject of food gets brought up and Shilpa pulls me into the convo, which then turns into a completely random, intense, and very funny lesson for me on the modern Indian women.
From extremely spoiled and helpless sons (not these women’s however as son #1 of friend #2 was learning to cook at 3 yrs old), the multi-generation Indian household (and how daughter-in-laws can NEVER win with mothers-in-law!), the devolution of cooking at home, to “grocery stores’ vs morning shopping, to recent bills in the Indian congress on women’s rights, the reality of 3,000 women left at the alter last year after their family has presented wedding gifts (dowry’s being illegal), to President Modi’s policies (good and bad), to why so many Punjabi men in particular seek to live outside of India (“because its too easy for them to get into trouble if they stay”), to “I don’t need no man to have children”, and a lot of laughing. At several points people beside us were either staring, laughing or politely moving away from our little four way huddle.
Shilpa kept apologizing(with a grin) as this was definitely way off programme, but what a perfect way to top off a trip!
My final gift from India, an hour of the wisdom of her women and a reminder of how lucky I’ve been to have strong and determined women in my family (Colleen, Olive, Marion and Dawn)! and always in my life.