What does happen when you get used to living in a bubble? I am not a queen and yet my life is set up as one and like the prince who became Buddha, sometimes I wonder what lies outside my palace walls. We went to the mall yesterday. The other choice was climbing the hill near the house that leads to a temple or horse back riding. Both options seemed fraught with difficulties and possible dangers. The sun was uncharacteristically out and it was hot. I worried about the children hiking in the sun. For the horse back riding, I worried about the children not having close toed shoes. Malls are safe and enclosed. Of course there could be a terrorist attack but how much could one live in fear?
The lady at the information desk pointed out to a children’s play area two stories above us, “Take the ascalator two times. “she said. She pointed out the escalators behind us which was lined with people trying to get on or off. I liked the sound of “ascaltors” and repeated it to myself a few times. Everyone in Pune was in the mall especially those who did not know what to do with themselves. A boy cried in fear as his parents tried to get him to get up on one of the escalators. I imagined them promising him earlier in the day or the week, a visit to the mall if he behaved himself well or passed a particular exam. I imagined him traumatized for ever after this visit. Would he ever believe in the promises his parents made?
The McDonalds was crowded. They had rides, water balloons and bungee jumping. At a McDonalds? How come all American things are so much nicer in India? Whether the Marriott or Dunkin Donuts, whether McDonalds or Forever Twenty One; places I didn’t much care for back home here express themselves in all their aspirational glory. “Wait a second”I thought.”Maybe that’s true for me too?” Chastened at my insight, I determined not to look down my nose at anything especially not at the mall.
I imagine myself now telling visiting friends especially those coming from outside India, “Come to the mall if you want to see India, come and see the country for what it was, and what it is, jostle side by side for space and expression in this modern market place. Come and meet me when you are here because I am at that juncture too.” Hopefully I will have the courage to look on the other side of these castle walls some day. The girls would really like to go horse back riding and I would like to be enlightened.