India at the Mall

Since the kids are at day camp from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. every day this week, my sister and I are taking advantage of the free and easy life.  We drink coffee and browse in stores that kids don’t like.  We finish sentences and only stop for bathroom breaks when we need them.

Today we went to the local mall.  I’ve been back in town for around 10 weeks now and until today I had not stepped foot in the mall.  My immediate impressions as I stepped through the big glass doors were 1) people should wear more clothes and 2) American malls smell like the yummiest perfumes mixed with pizza.

Of course all the stores had changed since I’d been there three years ago, except for Sears (how does that place doggedly survive?) and Old Navy.  There were kiosks run by foreigners who didn’t bother to ask me if I wanted a special hand massage/lotion demonstration.  I think they could see the answer in my eyes.  Old people were walking with their thick, sensible shoes and fanny packs.  A Mennonite woman changed an infant’s diaper on one of the empty benches by the jewelry store.

My sister and I walked and talked, trying to count the time as both shopping and exercise (what we call ‘not sitting’).  Sucking in my abs, I passed a well-lit store and glanced at the framed photos of Bollywood stars lining the walls.  Wait, Bollywood stars?  Like a tourist I stopped and stared.

“I know those women,”  I sputtered to my sister.  “I mean, I don’t know them, know them.  But I’ve seen their movies.  This store has got to be Indian.”

And it was.  It was a little spa whose specialty is threading, a process of facial/eyebrow hair removal.  The woman running it was deliciously Indian.  White women were sitting in recliners, getting their eyebrows done.  I had to press down a lump in my throat and resist the urge to run in and say, Hi-you-don’t-know-me-but-I-feel-like-I-know-you-because-I-lived-in-your-country to the lady at the front deskI wanted to blurt stupid things like, I wear kurtas and love rice and dhal, and hey! say something to me in Hindi

But I didn’t because, the thing is, I’ve already done that to the Indians who work at the Subway restaurant by our house.  And somehow I ended up giving out my cell number…

Small Things

I believe God heals people because I’ve seen Him do it.  I believe he releases persecuted people from prison because it’s happened to friends of friends.  He does big things, and I know that he does small sweet things, too.  So why am I always surprised when he blesses me in the most minute ways?

I’m trying to adjust to life in the US.  One of the things that’s been hard for me to deal with is the difficulty of finding clothes to wear that don’t make me feel uncomfortable.  I wore kurtas in India, long, blouse-like tunics that hit about three inches above my knees.  They’re beautiful, hide everything, and feel uber-feminine.  I liked them.  Ok, not the orange, paisley ones with silver sequins, but most I loved.

Since our return to the States I’ve not been able to make myself wear shorts.  Not that I think shorts are bad.  I just can’t make myself do it.  I trust I don’t need to reiterate my issues with swimsuits.  Even little t-shirts make me feel weird.  So I was hoping that today I could go shopping with my sister and find tops that would be pretty and make me feel comfortable in my skin again.

But wait!  Plot complication alert.  I hate shopping, and we don’t have a lot of money.  And we had my sister’s 2.5 year old with us.  And I had a short window of time before picking my kids up from music camp.  It was a dicey hope at best.

I had $100, 1.5 hours, and a ridiculous sinking feeling to bring to today’s outing.  But what I left the store with were 7 American-style kurtas (!), three pairs of earrings, and the ridiculous exhilaration of someone who spent $99.54 with tax.

It’s not a big thing.  It’s small, I know.  But then I also know how it was a direct blessing from the Lord; how today he reminded me, yet again, that he cares about small things, too.