"Didi,” the maid says. Didi in Hindi means sister, and this lady is not my sister. But Indians are very formal and respectful when addressing one another. In Mom’s family all of my cousins except me have pet names and I rarely use any of their given names when I speak to them. This makes introductions to outsiders awkward because my mind defaults to their pet name. “Yes?” I say to the maid. “Today your hair is not looking that nice. I think you should style it like yesterday,” she shares. Only in India does a woman who bathes in a loo on the roof tell a hipster from Manhattan to restyle her hair. I guess you have to admire desi moxie in all its forms. “I’ll take it under advisement,” I reply the maid in Hindi as Bangalore Cousin enters the dining room. “What advice are you taking from the maid?” she asks. “Don’t ask,” I mutter in English. “Ready for the second puja?” Bangalore cousin asks. “Yep,” I reply. As ready as I will ever be.
Thirty minutes later Massi, Bangalore Cousin and I are sitting in the pandit’s puja parlor for the continuation of the gauri-shankar (marriage) prayers. There are five in total, so three remain.