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Author: Andrew Tonn

Mumbai Part 4: In which one requires a proportionate response

MUMBAI–India cannot be forced. India will not adapt to you. I am still learning the pattern and subtexts of interactions and could continue to learn them for several lifetimes to come. I know enough to realize all the things I cannot see, to know there is an alternate universe of clues that I am missing. There are layers under layers and when I look beneath one, there are layers I have no idea how to access. What can be written of the place? On one hand you have a complex political history of kings and princes, foreign invaders, and...

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Mumbai 03: Heat tempered

MUMBAI-Nothing comes easily in India. At times it feels as if everything from the bureaucracy to nature itself is out to thwart whatever you are trying to do. Then, somehow–if you have patience–the path mysteriously clears and things come together, usually with absolutely no explanation. You never know why you couldn’t do something in the first place and you never find out why you can do it now. It just is and you take what luck you can get. It comes as no surprise that Buddhism developed here, with its emphasis on rising above the pain of this particular...

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Mumbai 02 : The world is changed

MUMBAI–I have a memory etched into my personal history, one I recall to remind myself of something. I was in Honduras on a nine month assignment with a medical relief NGO. It was nearing the end of my time and all I could think about was where I would go and what I would do, figuring out what comes next. I was dating a Swedish woman who was there working on a related project. Our days were spent investigating, writing, and photographing; nights and weekends living la vida loca. It was a Sunday and we were together at a...

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Mumbai 01: Pushan, Saint Christopher and Loki Walk into a Bar

MUMBAI–The smell hits you first. From the first moment India surrounds you, absorbs you into its atmosphere, its rush and flow. You have spent hour upon hour in the grey, nowhere interzone of the jet-plane. The air hisses white noise, your prayers and the engines keep you aloft as, unnoticed, you cross borders and lines of latitude. The flight finally ends, the seals are breached, and the air of London or New Jersey or wherever you took off from escapes into the sub-continental night. This was my first time in India, my first in Asia. I fumbled for my...

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