When Vayshali and I talked on Saturday, she said something about coming back/meeting today (Monday) at 1pm. So I got back to where I met her around 1.20, having got lost both on the way to and the way from Mumba Devi temple. (Don’t go, it’s not worth it!) I’d bought a rucsac (190 Rupees = UKP2.30) full of fruit (oranges, pears, apples) to give to her and her family as a sign that my promise to try to help her when I could later in 2006 but that now I had no money to give them. Their little pal was around and demanded some fruit, so I gave her an orange and a pear and she scampered off. I then sat on the same bench as I had on Saturday and ate a water-melon. There was no sign of Vayshali or her family, just three little boys playing cricket. Eventually, their ball went into the road so I retrieved it – they came over, as did a few teenage girls bearing babies and the usual conversation started:
- Where are you from?
- How long have you been/will you be in Mumbai?
- Where are you going next? Goa?
- Your necklaces are pretty/can I have them (no, they help keep my friends close to my heart)
- Do you want hash, grass, opium, etc? (It’s hard to make them believe that I don’t, especially looking the way I do.)
By now, I was convinced there Vayshali and her family weren’t around and the kids had seen into my rucsac, so I gave the fruit to the. Vayshali’s little pal materialized, demanding more from me. I thought ‘no, you’ve had some already’ and all I had left by now was an orange, which I was keeping for my lunch. So I opened the orange and tried to give her a couple of segments – she refused these, even after some of the other kids suggested she take them. Conversation soon dried up and I went on my way. I’m still a bit sad because I wasn’t able to keep an admittedly vague promise I’d made and maybe let someone down.
I went back to the synagogue to try to speak with their records-keeper. After writing down all I’d been told about my great-uncle, I was invited to speak with a senior chap there. He asked me whether my great-uncle was Ashkenazic or Sephardic and I had to embarrassedly admit I didn’t know the difference. It turns out that, being from central Europe, he’d have most likely been Ashkenazic. This synagogue is Sephardic and doesn’t really have contact with the other branch of the faith. However, the chap said he’d see what he could do. I’m now also the proud possessor of a CD of info about the Sephardic set-up in Mumbai and am about to google for Ashkenazic synagogues here.