People Watching

As the bus bounced along the incredibly crowded Mumbai streets, I decided to people-watch. Much to my surprise, however, people decided to watch back. Many stared, unblinking, at the bus. Some waved. I guess they were a little surprised to see a bus full of obviously foreign teenagers. In the meantime, I couldn’t help but feel a little bad for them. It was pouring rain outside, and the darkened shoulders and collars of everyone’s shirts suggested that they were soaking wet. They didn’t seem to mind, though—they walked calmly through the streets, not rushing, or covering their heads, or flitting between the many awnings. Some even stopped to wash their feet in the large puddles that looked more like rushing streams flowing through the streets. People went about their business as usual, accustomed to the monsoon that had put a little damper on our trip. To them, the weather was familiar. The women’s colorful saris and shalwar kameezes sharply contrasted the grey skies. Their outfits, and the bustling city as a whole, combated the mugginess that seemed to rest overhead. I stared with admiration at their resilience, and they stared back at us, American teenagers with raincoats and umbrellas in an air conditioned bus.