Stuff I Talk About

by Christina Ledbetter

These Few Blocks

Life is bumping along here. A few evenings ago Benson and I sat on floor cushions sewn from vintage saris, drinking Indian beers and staring out at the city as the sun set. It’s funny: we were so excited to get furniture, but we spend more time on floor in front of the window than our sofa.

“What have you learned since being here?” Benson asked.

“Like practically?”

“Everything.”

I took a sip of my beer and watched a giant bird swoop past. The conversation flowed until the dirt patch where boys play cricket below us turned from brown to gray and then dark.

I’ve learned where to go for custom upholstery work (his name is Bipin and I can send you his number if you like).

Benson learned how to operate the microwave at his office.

I’m learning new phrases. Indians don’t ask where we live, they ask where we stay. And the accent is getting ever so slightly easier to understand. And they don’t ask how I like Mumbai (and even then, the locals still call it Bombay), they ask how I find it.

Beyond the practicalities (which are precious, and we don’t take them for granted), we’re learning how to ebb and flow along with the city. Sometimes things move fast and often they move comically slow. Either way, little is timed how we expect.

We’re also learning that while some parts of us are changing, others likely never will.

Other than moves (one halfway across the country straight out of college, the other across the world a month ago) and vacations, Benson and I have always maintained a small geographical footprint. Neither of us like driving. We hunker. What that looks like in the US is a church that’s walking distance from our home, nightly shouts across the balconies with our neighbors about how our days went and whose house we’ll meet at for pizza the next Sunday, three restaurants all within a few miles, a gym built into our garage where the door is always open, and one of our closest friends who’s more like family living in our spare bedroom.

Deep relationships and few miles traveled brings us immense joy.

And while we plan to travel the world a bit more while we are here, our daily life is looking small. Everyone asks about where we’ve explored within Mumbai. Our answer mostly consists of the few blocks surrounding our apartment. But here’s the thing: we are so good with that.

Because God has been so gracious to us in these few blocks. We’re endeared by the chunky boy who wears a wet suit on his evening visits to the pool. Twice we’ve watched parades of passionate dancers thrashing to the beat of drums marching down our street. Two new Indian friends taught us how to eat rice with our hands in their living room and laughed when we asked if we could borrow one of their baby’s bibs. I met a woman from another land. She and I sat in her exquisite apartment filled with rugs from every corner of the world. We decided to pray together. “Do you mind if we get on our knees?” she asked me in her can’t-quite-place-it accent, and I knew I’d found a woman I need to spend more time with in hopes that some of her will rub off on me. We found a church: a group of twenty-something (in number and age) kind brown faces who meet in a rented office space a five-minute walk from our building. We sit in swiveling, ergonomic chairs and listen to sermons from 1 John. Afterward our new church family passes around cookies and asks, among other things, “How do you find Bombay?”

Quite small. And praise be to God, getting deeper by the day.

Categories: India

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