Free Night in Mumbai
Monday, March 1
Throughout high school one of my closest friends, Rasika, was Indian but as the years passed we lost touch. When I found out I would be joining the AJC ACEESS trip to India my parents encouraged me to reach out to her. What an excellent idea! We caught up over a three-hour lunch where she not only provided me with practical tips for my visit but also gave me her cousins’, Shrinivas and Ashwinis, contact information. When our group had a free night (our only throughout the entire jam packed ten days) in Mumbai on Monday March 1st, I decided to give them a call!
Ashwini, a 25-year-old teacher and community activist, and Shrinivas a 24-year old analyst at Merryl Lynch, could not have been more accommodating. The pair of siblings came to out hotel to pick Rebecca Solomon and myself up for a night in Mumbai. While this may seem standard, a drive across town in Mumbai can easily take up to 2 hours. The four of us drove to a local Israeli restaurant, called Moshe’s. Of all places they could have chosen it was rather ironic! While Rasika knows that I am Jewish I was unsure if she passed on this information to her cousins. Regardless, Rebecca and I were delighted to eat Hummus and falafel as an alternative to traditional Indian food.
It did not matter that we had just met - our conversation flowed naturally. I was amazed at how similar our lives are. Even more, I had a newfound respect for my Indian friends in America. In a country of approximately 1.3 billion people, to study in the states one must be in the top 1% of their class! After dinner, Shrinivas and Ashwini wanted to take us to a “pub.” Again, their choice to take us to Hard Rock Café left us laughing. At the end of the night they made sure to bring us back to our hotel. The next day Rebecca and I were bubbling - we had experienced true Indian culture. While Indian culture is by no means monolithic, looking back, the experience remains special. We had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the daily life of our Indian contemporaries.
Rochelle-Leigh (Shelley) Rosenberg