Home At Last! (or broke, tired and grumpy as Jim has suggested I name this post…)

A few weeks ago in New York City, I hopped in a taxi near the NYT corporate apartment in midtown to meet Jim for dinner in Greenwich Village.  As I settled in for the ride, I noticed that my driver was wearing a Sikh turban.  I asked him if he was from Punjab, an area in north India where many Sikhs live.   His eyes stared at me for a long second in the rear view mirror before they softened. He was clearly unaccustomed to such a question.  “Yes!” he answered with a smile.

I told him that I live in Delhi and that my husband and I know several Sikh drivers.  One of them, Jaswinder, drives Jim home from work  everyday.  Sikh taxi  drivers in Delhi are friendlier and less likely to gawk at my non-sari clad figure or to steal lascivious stares.  Sikhs aren’t bound by caste or gender differences – they consider women equal to men and worthy of participating in all realms of society.

We chatted about India and  life as an immigrant in New York.  He told me that Americans don’t understand his culture – most people think his turban is a sign of Islam and that he is muslim.  He said this misunderstanding was tough to navigate.

He wasn’t my only Indian taxi driver in New York.  I had many – all Sikh.  Again, I surprised one female driver with the Punjab question.  I could tell right away that she was Sikh:  her telling long hair and beautiful smile and gentle demeanor were all familiar to me.  She moved to New York five years ago and every day she prays to a live picture of the Golden Temple broadcast on cable TV.   The temple in Amritsar, an Indian city on the Pakistan border is the most sacred Sikh building and it rivals the Taj Mahal in the number of annual visitors.  While talking to her, my brain leapt to a faded memory of the word “golden” and to this famous last line:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


We are back in Delhi, toasted brown by the seaside sun, exhausted from six weeks on the road, and sated with the company of family and friends.  Thank you Rosie for taking care of my kids while I stole a few days to myself.  Mom, thanks for going out of your way to fly to us.   Here’s a taste of our travels:

Belle France!

Fishing on the Gambler, Point Pleasant, New Jersey:

My brother, Alec… Uncle Extraordinaire:

With Grandmom, Barbara and Vlad:

Sauciness in New York:

And Sweetness:


An old friend with new puppies:

And Jimmy, going to work on his first day back:

4 thoughts on “Home At Last! (or broke, tired and grumpy as Jim has suggested I name this post…)”

  1. my kindred, saucy, broke, tired and grumpy girlfriend, let’s talk amritsar. i think it should be the weekend after london. you deserve it. tell jimmy we’ll make a hundred bucks go a long way.

  2. Aww.. I completely missed you Theo! I guess I’ll have to take the family to you. Looks like you had an amazing vacation.

  3. Theo, your trip back home must have been wonderful. I remember the long sunners back home when we were living abroad and trying to cram in seeing everyone, all your friends and family , in case it was another year before you saw them again. And then strangely enough that type of relief from the excitement and travel and hustle when you came “home” to your expat destination. You seemed to have immersed yourself into India with a passion that is Eastern. I long for that connection to my past and one day will do what you have done. Thanks for all the wonderful blogs. Love and hugs Seema xxx

  4. I’ve always found Sikhism very interesting and much more similar to Christianity than most people realize.

    During my tour of the Golden Temple, the Sikh attitude towards women was explained to me this way; You must treat every younger girl as if she was your daughter, you must treat every woman of your age as if she was your sister and every older woman as if she was your mother. Obviously there is some leeway in there someplace for marriage 🙂

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