I’ve lost count of all the people who have come and gone in our lives over the past two years. And with another monsoon, comes another mass exodus of newly acquired friends shipping out to new assignments all over the world. You couldn’t move for Champagne-quaffing ex-pats enjoying a last brunch at the Renaissance last week. The atmosphere was heady and excitable as talk turned to warm beer in English country pubs and supplement-heavy Sunday Newspapers.
But is the grass always greener? When we are drinking warm beer in a cold climate sometime in the future, will we be reminiscing about drinking chilled Champagne in a hot climate? For all the complaining that we do, I actually think we might be having a good time, occasionally.
So the booze flowed, the laughter grew louder and the kids ran riot in the marbled halls, fighting with balloon swords and being rather ineffectually marshalled by a large, red-faced woman dressed as a fairy. I don’t remember anyone looking after my kids while I enjoyed myself in a five-star hotel with friends back home. In fact, I don’t think I even went into a five-star hotel back home. And now, here we are calling over the hotel minstrels, asking if they know ‘Homeward bound’ and singing along like drunken idiots.
Being part of a minority and sharing a common experience such as living in India, does bring people together more quickly. I often find that when I meet someone new in Mumbai we can’t stop gassing for the first couple of hours. It’s so nice to meet someone who has the same expectations and similar experiences to me and who just ‘gets what I’m on about’. I had no idea how important humour and nuance in everyday conversation was to me before I came to live in Mumbai and it’s also great to talk to someone other than your husband who is on the phone several times a day (that's my husband I mean, not yours)
My dear friend Rebecca texts me all day long about nothing much and I love it. Backwards and forwards go the sms’s describing the day’s frustrations which, when sent, magically turn from annoying things that happen into funny stories. We go on expeditions around town together, visiting places we’d never visit alone – we even ran the Mumbai marathon together. But now she is leaving… and I am bereft. Mind you, I was also bereft when our Kiwi friends Amanda and Henry went back to NZ this time last year. We have met people from all around the world; they have come into our lives for a while and given the whole experience extra dimension and colour.
So farewell then Sally, Paul, Rebecca, Mischa, Susie, Simon, Emilie and Stephane. I hope you all have nice lives and remember me on Facebook from time to time. Our Saturday nights were getting a bit out of hand anyway and I am sure my liver will be glad of the rest.
But don’t worry about me guys, sitting here in the rain; I’ve just heard we’ve got some new mates shipping in! Out of the blue, an email pinged into my inbox from someone I met once at a party three years ago.
“Hi, I don’t know whether you remember me but I met you at Sarah and Chris’s fancy dress party in Maidstone in 2008. I was Cyndi Lauper, you were Debbie Harry, we got on like a house on fire, remember?”
“Ah, yes, Cyndi Lauper, what a great night that was, I remember.”
“Well, I got your email from Sarah because we’re moving to Mumbai in the summer and were hoping we could meet up with you for a few drinks.”
And, as it turns out, dear reader, Cyndi Lauper also known as Bonnie and her husband Daniel have taken an apartment in our building and, by further fortunate co-incidence, have daughters around the same age as mine. Instant new friends on tap. Result!