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It is hard to feel at home in a new place. We are going to be in India for another five months, not long enough to become home, but too long to be vacation. TIFR (Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in Mumbai) will be our temporary home for another month, followed by two months of travel, and a final two month stay at Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in Bangalore.

Woman in blue sari carrying garden waste in a bundle on her head. Gardeners work all day, every day on the
grounds of the Tata Institute. There are no blowers of any kind, very peaceful, though it does
require many workers.

TIFR is an oasis on the southern tip of this large and bustling city. After being in India for a month I feel “at home” each time we return from a shopping foray into the city. As our cab pulls up to the Ramanujan Guest House I take a deep breath and relax a bit, a sign of transition from visitor to resident.

Main lawn in front of Institute overlooks Arabian Sea.

Nevertheless, I am still a little uneasy about these forays away from the nest. Up until yesterday, though, I was always accompanied by someone else, my daughter, husband, or both. And now I will make a confession: I am not all that brave about exploring alone.

Typical city cab that takes us to and from our apartment for less than 100 Rupees ($2) each way.

I have no sense of direction so I have a deep fear of getting hopelessly lost. I envision myself wandering the streets of Mumbai with no idea of how to get home. When I confessed this to my daughter she reminded me that all I had to do was grab a cab – easily done in Mumbai – and tell the driver: Navy Nagar, TIFR. Done and done. That made me feel better but the butterflies still flutter with the thought of going out alone.

Typical street in Colaba in front of famous Leopold Cafe.

Yesterday, accompanied by butterflies, both in my stomach and flittering around the gardens of TIFR, I left the safety of home by foot to seek out a small market to pick up a few things for our apartment. Before leaving I found a market online and copied into my notebook (no smartphone to help me here!)  a rudimentary map of how to get there. The walk was easy, though the streets did not match up with my map. The area we live in is called Navy Nagar and many of the streets lead into military facilities that are closed to the public. I never found the market.

I did find a couple of other markets but they were closed for lunch. In spite of my failure to locate the intended target, I was pleased with myself for venturing out. (I know I sound like a wuss but I’m trying to be honest here.)


On the last stretch back to the Institute I noticed an alley way with shopping stalls. A tall, young man wearing a turban and holding a rifle was guarding the street. Timidly I asked if I could go in. A bobble of the head, always hard for me to interpret, indicated yes. The shops were not what I had in mind but I was able to get nearly everything I needed.

Love the sticker on the plates, “Export Quality”
and of course the Hindu swastika.

Home just became a little more like home.


Last Modified on March 24, 2015
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