Letter from India
Mumbai, June 2009
The British Airways flight is on-time but it is still 2 AM local time in Mumbai. There is a small queue at the taxi stand but I have survived at least 5 people trying to carry my bag so I am relieved to get in the taxi and be on my way. I chit-chat with the driver, whose English is pretty good, and after 30 minutes we enter the city proper. Soon, I see groups of people walking and remark that Mumbai must truly be a 24 hour city with this many people on the streets so early in the morning. My driver laughs and says these people are walking towards the Shri Siddhivinayak Temple to pray to Ganesh at a sunrise service. “It’s Ganesh Tuesday”, he exclaims. Apparently, this happens every Tuesday and it draws large crowds. As we drove closer to the temple, the groups became larger and soon we had to slow down to avoid hitting them. Although Ganesh, with his distinctive elephant head, is revered as the Remover of Obstacles in Hindu, his followers seemed intent on putting them in front of my taxi. After a while, the crowds thinned and we were able to resume our normal speed. Soon I was at my hotel, a grand structure in the old section of the city, and soon after that I was asleep in my opulent room.
I awoke late the next morning but I had no business that day. As is my usual practice, I wanted to get to know my latest new city I was visiting. Dressed in long shorts and a western tee shirt and sandals, I headed out the front lobby door and into the heat of a very hot day in Mumbai. I found a shopping mall nearby, much like the ones in Bangkok, and started to look for a pharmacy and beer shop in that order. I found the pharmacy first and looked around for some aspirin and saline solution for my contact lenses (my bottle had leaked on the flight). As I picked up a saline bottle, I sensed the presence of someone close by and looked up. There she was, wearing a clerk’s blue smock and a huge smile. She asked me in Indian accented English if I had found what I was looking for. I am not sure whether it was her accent or her large breasts that I was now staring at, but I didn’t understand what she said and I asked her to repeat it. She laughed at this and soon we were engaged in the usual chit-chat. She looked over her shoulder and said she had to be careful her boss didn’t see us talking. I blurted out that maybe we could meet later. She asked where I was staying. She said she got off at 7 PM so maybe we could meet at the coffee shop in the hotel. I agreed and left without making a purchase, feeling that the longer I stayed the less this meet-up would happen. I did find the beer shop and as I walked back to the hotel with my 3 bottles of Kingfisher beer, it occurred to me how she knew there was a coffee shop in my hotel.
I went back to my room and started on my beer while answering email and half watching the Indian version of a news show. The hours dragged but I figured India was like other countries in Asia; 7 PM meant 8 PM, and so forth. So when 7 PM arrived, I casually showered, added some Versace cologne, and went to find the hotel coffee shop. It was on the main floor and it was mostly empty when I entered. I sat in a strategic table that was far from the main light and yet had a clear view of the entrance. It wasn’t long before Paroom entered and she quickly spotted me and sat down opposite me. She was now smock-less and her shirt exposed her upper arms which displayed tattoos on each arm. She was obviously much younger than I thought when I first met her; maybe 18-20 years old, but her smile was breathless and I immediately took up my gaze on her glorious breasts. She didn’t seem to mind so we continued our conversation from before. After several teas and an hour later, we reached that impasse of what to do next. I boldly invited her to my room, she didn’t say no but expressed concern over hotel security. She said this hotel did not approve of men taking women to their rooms. Looking at the tattoos on her upper arm, I could see this might pose a problem. I noticed one of the managers eyeing us from the cash register. I suggested we walk out towards the main entrance knowing the elevators were along the way. As luck would have it, an elevator opened as we walked past it and I pulled Paroom inside and pushed the number for my floor. When the door shut, she hugged me and laughed loudly. It had been a precision job.
In the room, she immediately asked for vodka which I pulled from the mini-bar along with a beer for me. She also wanted to smoke a cigarette but as my room was non-smoking, I motioned her into the bathroom. After her third vodka she was now straddling my leg and I suggested we both try the very large shower. She agreed and immediately started to strip off. I did as well and followed her into the warm water paradise. What followed was my usual attention to female satisfaction but she responded not as the normal restrained, pursued woman, but as some femme extreme that had their climax switch turned on. She was certainly not a virgin but she acted as if she were a virgin to climax. Afterwards, she admitted as much, saying that the 5 other partners she had been with before, all Indian men, were lacking in profile and not much interested in their partner’s pleasure. She lay back in the bed and cooed loudly with satisfaction; a new experience for me, at least at this intensity. Another vodka later and she was ready to go again; I obliged happily.
Now it was getting very late, in fact it was near 2 AM in the morning. I had to get up at 6 AM to shower, eat breakfast, and then catch my ride to the office for an important meeting at 9 AM. At first, we lay together very relaxed, but after 20 minutes it was clear both of us had other obligations. She rose first, took a quick shower, and then put her clothes on. She said it was wonderful and we had to get together again the next evening, but for now, she needed taxi money and that would around 10k Indian rupees or around $200 US. I knew this was way beyond any taxi fare within the city yet I paid it to her willingly. She kissed me passionately and exited out the door. I fell into the bed and slept soundly until my phone woke me 4 hours later.
The next day’s business went smoothly and I was back in my hotel suite by 6 PM. I rang up my friend who now lived in Mumbai and we arranged to meet for drinks in the hotel restaurant at 7 PM. My friend, Upa, had a very interesting story. He came to America to go to university from India when he was 17 years old. He finished his degree in electrical engineering 3 years later at Indiana University and was immediately admitted to their masters program. After graduation, he became a programmer with my company, and in short order a lead programmer, project manager and then a technical executive. It wasn’t long before they asked him to return to India to oversee a large software development group in Mumbai. Even though he was now a local hire, he was still doing very well and was dating several India women who loved his American accent and his American citizenship. When we met in the bar, he was the same easy-going person I had known when he was a programmer and yet there was a more mature air to him now. It seemed he had slipped back into his Brahmin class demeanor.
After we exchanged pleasantries and a quick first drink, I told him what happened the night before. He laughed in a knowing way and said he was not surprised by my experience. He said due the economic downturn; many Indian women had to “supplement” their income to get through school, pay off bills, etc. These women were not escorts or prostitutes, but opportunists, he said, which is why she asked for so much money for a taxi. I told him about the way she responded to oral sex and her disparaging remarks about Indian men. He said that was common, as Indian men traditionally never considered a woman’s pleasure during lovemaking. He laughed again and said as he had been “trained” in America, he had no shortage of women who wanted his services. Although Mumbai has many faults, for him, he was quite content for his present circumstance. When he said that, I realized his phone had been ringing almost non-stop since we had met. As I knew business was slack these days, I can only imagine who were making all those calls.
After we parted, I noticed my own phone had several messages from Paroom. I had another busy day in the morning so I did not respond. Also, as she was obviously seeking more than pleasure in this relationship, I decided the next evening to take a break and have a solo evening. I went to the East Asian restaurant for dinner; a very elegant venue but strangely all the food was cooked Indian style. A young Indian man greeted me and showed me around the restaurant. He took me to a back wall and showed me some masks that he said Thai people used to ward off evil spirits. I recognized them instantly as replica masks from the Thai Ramakien. I told the waiter the real story behind the masks and to prove my authority on the subject, showed him my Hanuman tattoo on my left upper arm. Looking embarrassed, he showed me to a seat at the bar. There, a pretty waitress waited on me. She talked to me enthusiastically and when the “natural” breaks occurred in our conversation, instead of excusing herself to do her job she just stood there waiting for the next utterance from me. I was unnerved a bit by this, but on the third go-around I handed her my business card with my room number written on the back and a short sentence asking her to please call me when she got off work. When she received it, she studied it intently and looked up and smiled at me.
You might ask why I did this instead of responding to Paroom? Quite frankly, she was way too young for me. I really don’t like being with someone my sons would consider too young for them, and so I ignored her now regular calls and messages. Ana, my new best friend, called me the next day as I was being driven from my office to the hotel. We chatted amicably and then she told me to meet her outside a restaurant near the hotel. I told her to go inside and wait for me. She said no; meet her at the corner opposite the restaurant. I said OK, took a shower at the hotel, and then 10 minutes later Ana and I entered the restaurant. I asked her why she waited for me outside in the heat. She shrugged and said it was not polite for Indian women to go alone into a restaurant and then meet men inside. That made some sense to me. She ordered dinner for both of us. Afterwards, we talked about our lives and all of a sudden, there was a quiet moment. I knew to keep quiet and after 30 seconds she asked what we would do the rest of the evening. I said I could use a drink, so maybe we could go to the hotel bar. She laughed and said she could never do that. But, she suggested, she knew a way to meet me in my hotel room without anyone knowing she was doing that. I instantly understood her dilemma and felt like a dunce for not seeing this earlier. I agreed and we left the restaurant and got into a black and yellow cab, which was not air conditioned. I was dropped at the front entrance of the hotel while she drove to the back. By the time I had opened my room door, I saw her smiling face come around the corner. I made a fuss keeping the door open for her and said “entre” as she went through the doorway. When she was inside, she looked back at me again with that big smile.
The evening evolved much like the one with Paroom did, but with Ana it was more passionate than physical. She appreciated the smaller gestures of love making and looked into my eyes when she experienced something different. At times, it seemed as if she were trying to breathe me in, so she could make this physical experience part of her soul, something she could recall later in more barren times. She awoke in a panic around 4 AM and said she had to get out before the morning staff arrived. I asked her if she needed taxi money, she looked down and said yes. I pulled 7,000 rupees from my wallet and handed it to her. She thanked me, dressed quickly, and kissed me on the way out. I sat on the edge of the bed and wondered what was happening. Was it just P4P or were these girls looking for more than money? I remembered a Stickman submission by Come What May about Thai masseuses pleasuring Indian women. Now I thought it was both; a chance to express their sexual desires and also get paid for it. Who wouldn’t want a part-time job like this?
The next day I was so tired all I wanted to do was sleep after work. That night, while sitting at the upscale bar in the hotel, I saw a beautiful Indian woman being fondled by her boyfriend in a way that reminded me of the time I saw my teenage son fondling his girlfriend. Only this girl was sitting back rolling her eyes and then glanced at me to see if I was watching. She then smiled slightly and went back to pretending she enjoyed being ogled by this ham-fisted man. I called Upa and told him of my experiences the past few days. My question to him was had I been with a prostitute or a woman seeking a night with an attentive lover? He laughed and said the answer was much more complex than yes or no. He thought that although she appreciated my services, the fact that I gave her money for her services eliminated any shame she might have for having these desires in the first place. “You see”, he explained, “women desiring sex or seen to be enjoying sex, is considered a slut in India. But if she needed the money for school or family, then it is a different matter”.
I thought on this for a few seconds. So, taking money for doing some act that she wanted to do in the first place, was more acceptable in India than just doing the act for personal pleasure? “You have it”, my friend exclaimed through my iPhone. After we hung up, I tried to decide if I had been a sex monger or a gigolo; providing a sexual service for lonely partners yet paying for the privilege. It didn’t matter now. I was now turned off by the whole experience. In fact, I missed my wife deeply, for the first time in all the business trips I had taken overseas and partaken of the local fare. I thought of Come What May’s sexual holidays and now the whole scene completely turned me off. I was burned out and wanted to get off the merry-go-round. If there was a 12-step program I could have entered I would have got down on my knees and prayed to God to let me in. Instead, I spent the next 2 nights alone in my hotel room ignoring the many calls and texts I received from my girls. On the long flight home, I was unusually impatient. With each announced delay, something that happens all the time with international flights, I seethed with anger inside. When I arrived at my house, my beautiful wife was waiting and I hugged her a long time. She laughed and asked what was wrong with me. “Nothing”, I replied, “It’s just great to be home.”
If this sort of thing is happening in conservative India, it must be happening all over the world.