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 desk. I 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…