Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 2 in Mumbai

As usual, it's great to be in a new place, especially one that is so different from anything I've ever experienced before. I love these first moments of perpetual wonder, of childlike surprise and terror of the unknown, and a healthy bit of homesickness. As adults we rarely experience these moments, we like to make everything our own and be in control, knowing and thinking through every situation. Michael and I are being led around by Sarah, the current volunteer, who is incredibly wonderful, patient and motherly with a great sense of humor. Not knowing anything is so refreshing and, somehow, freeing. All we can do is let things wash over us and feel them as they happen. And there's a lot going on.

Initial impressions from Mumbai, in a few words: it's very, very hot and humid. Cars are shrunken in size, making them look kind of fake, but in an adorable way. Lots of sounds, people, smells, colors, people and animals in the street. Also lots of trees, surprisingly enough. I think these words have a new meaning now, even though they could be used to describe any other city, but it's hard to convey with just initial impressions.

The food is incredible, although we haven't had spicy food yet. I really never thought I'd enjoy all-veg food as much as this. It's so textured and everything has a distinct taste. Also a lot of cilantro and lemony spices, which is always wonderful. Mostly though, it's incredibly cheap. We thought we'd cook a lot but it's way too hot and ordering from restaurants is not only cheap, but also good and healthy. I have to experiment with some of the peppers in the markets, though, and make salsa. This country has all the ingredients, and then some. We'll see.

The JCC is located in a College somewhere more north than Downtown (that's as far as I go in terms of directions right now). We've met people around, and it's great to see how the world of Judaism extends all the way to here. Some things, in spite of distance, borders, culture, and language still remain the same. The people who work in the office are genuinely nice and helpful, offering to take us around and slowly easing us into life here.

All in all, a great start in Mumbai, though jet-lag seems to last longer going this way (and this far) and there's a lot to get used to (including the fact that there's construction going on in the office for the next couple of weeks, so there's noise is both inside and out).

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