We had a slew of guests today: a woman doctor who is instituting AIDS awareness programs in middle schools in Mumbai despite the wild protests of the Hindu fundamentalist party (they aren’t allowed to call it sex education), rheumatologist her husband, an international bridge champion to whom I lent the New Yorker issue with the article about Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess phenom whom I learned he admired and their daughter a homeopath who works out of her home. Conversation went from how out of control autorickshaw drivers were in Bangalore, refusing to take customers if the distance is too short and extorting people for high fares (the situation was pronounced “beyond redemption” because even if you took it to the highest level, the police commissioner turns out to be our own cousin and he just laughs and says, why not just pay the extra 20 rupees), to the stock market and how much higher it could go without collapsing, to the latest Hindi movie about an Indian coach who leads a girls hockey team to success. The actor, Shahrukh Khan is now getting requests to teach leadership in management programs across India. It's just the "glamour quotient" said the woman doctor. We served foie gras I'd bought at the airport in Brussels, on crackers topped with cucumber in the shape of bows.
After they left, my cousins Shona and Sam came by bringing biryani for lunch from a local restaurant. They said they’d deliberately picked a less spicy kind for me which was totally unnecessary since I relish the real Southern Indian version. We then combed the pages of a society magazine as my cousin picked out all the people she knew. "This guy is only 26 and married this woman in her 40s, but she doesn’t look her age," we observed as we leafed through.