there are never enough words.
I keep being surprised by my hands.
Just under three weeks ago, they were rough and dried from the plane ride here. Then, suddenly, they were soft and smooth from the cling of Bombay’s humid air. Since, they have been in constant motion.
Sometimes here, my hands have been nimble, furiously tapping away at my keyboard to say all the things I want them to. Mostly, though, they have been sweaty and tentative and clumsy from a combination of the lack of A.C. and nervousness.
Three weeks ago I was at Mumbai Mobile Creche.
The boy is not more than fourteen years old. He smiles and reaches out his right hand with only the index and little finger extended. I try to match his hand gesture, less gracefully though, and then stop because I don’t know what to do then. He teaches me a handshake. One that involves first touching both fingers together, then using the thumbs to pivot into a regular handshake.
After a few tries the movement is natural. And, more importantly, universal.
The handshake seems to work with everyone under the age of eighteen here. It usually invites a shy smile and “What’s your name, didi?” It invites conversation. It invites connection.
And that is what I hope to bring back. The confidence to shake someone’s hand. The knowledge of how to make a connection. An inexhaustible intrigue with this moving country. The hunger to understand and change things where I can. An insane amount of love and respect for 16 other people.
There’s a chain of flowers stretching from the base of my left thumb to the tip of my forefinger. Two peacocks sit on my wrist facing each other. A sunsplash in the middle of my right palm. Overnight, the bright orange henna on my hand has darkened into the color of the Mumbai Cricket Associations lobby’s hardwood floors.