Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Across the seven seas

I give the rickshaw-wallah directions with confidence. "Turn left." "A right after that building." I count out the change.
I bargain with the fruit seller. "That's too expensive. Every other day a papaya is ten rupees, how come today it's fifteen? Nothing doing. Here's your ten, and I'm taking that papaya."
I walk down the street nonchalantly.
I speak the language.
I have the same hair, the same skin, the same eyes, the same height.
This is home.

Is it at this corner? "Turn..." No. Next one. Next one. "Turn left." Was that correct? Yes. There's that building. Okay.
My heart flutters in my throat as I ask him the price. He has never seen me before, he knows I am new. I summon up brash arrogance. I swagger my way through buying a papaya. Did I under-pay? No. Okay. Okay.
I keep my pace quick and efficient. I feel their eyes on me. I am afraid of tripping on this road without a sidewalk. Rickshaws and two-wheelers hurtle past me. Too slow and I'll look like a tourist. Too fast and I'll look like a scampering rabbit.
I don't know the slang. I feel my accent as I utter the syllables. I keep the conversation at surface level; my vocabulary doesn't go that far.
I dress differently without knowing it. Even in a traditional salwar-khameez I look out of place. I walk differently. My jeans are too tight, my shirts are too long. My umbrella has polka dots on it.
This is home


No comments: