by mishti
Published in

by mishti

bombay: monsoon

rain, girlhood, contradictions


from vidushi,

For the first time in my life, people can pronounce my name. They even know what it means, from the Sanskrit विद (vid), “to know.” Initial hellos have never felt so comfortable.

a solo

My fifth evening in Bombay heralded the heaviest rains of the past decade. Alone in the apartment, I watched the clouds purge thick white heaves of water. The drops on my fingertips reminded me that even a glass-encased box thirty-five stories high could not escape the monsoon.

(well, kind of)

Both to my delight and my dismay, it’s difficult to really be alone in the country of 1.3 billion that includes most of my extended family. As soon as I landed in Delhi, I got a barrage of WhatsApp messages from relatives. My mom’s cousin — whom I hadn’t seen since I was nine — arrived at my hotel within the hour.


Given some ethnic ambiguity and the right company, I’ve passed as Latin American in Cuba and Mediterranean in Greece. I can play this game, to my surprise, even in India.


“Good luck,” said a friend I ran into at the tennis court the morning before my flight to India. She looked horrified.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You’ll see,” she said. “They stare.
In Delhi, some Fulbrighters and I ignored the blistering wet-blanket humidity and walked to Humayun’s tomb. Men did, indeed, stare with an unapologetic edge. That night, a helmeted man on a scooter lunged at me as we exited a nightclub.

learning about learning

I came here to help (A) develop a series of tablet-based games for rural schoolchildren to self-learn English, and (B) conduct research for the government panel drafting the country’s new national educational policy.

in a place

My host parents in Bombay live in Octavius, a building in Hiranandani Gardens, the city’s most upmarket residential development. Powai, the surrounding neighborhood, is called India’s Silicon Valley. It hosts the Indian Institute of Technology, tech companies, wealthy Indians, and many expats.

that doesn’t quite make sense

The most clichéd description of India is that it’s a land of contradictions. But, well, it is. Bombay houses both Dharavi, the world’s biggest slum, and Antilla, the world’s most expensive single-family home. Families with more money than I can imagine pay their maids less than minimum wage. The contradictions have come into focus during festival season, which runs from the end of August to the end of October.



fiction-laced truths about the people and places I have collided with. get them in your inbox @

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Mishti (Vidushi Sharma)

For a kinder, greener world. Helping build Highlighter and writing about the diaspora at Tweet @m1shti