My Big Gap Year: Slum Girls Have All The Luck

30-03-09

At the backpackers’, I met two Hindi girls called Bindi and Sunita. They were lovely but I did point out that they didn't look particularly Hindu. Sure enough I soon discovered their real names were Fi and Tori and they were taking a gap year from their German honours course at Cambridge. Despite being a posh English girl Bindi had the Sanskrit word for 'India' tattooed onto her ankle – that's how serious she was about being all Hindu. Pretty impressive and certainly much more serious about it than David Beckham.

They also said 'Slumdog' was the best film they'd ever seen, so we all agreed that we had to experience one of these slums immediately. But despite our efforts, we ended up in a rather nice place with trees and pavements. After a fruitless half hour of urchin-hunting we found a small tea house with a table of gorgeous guys inside it, drinking tea. Turns out they were Israeli and had come to India to relax after their gruelling military service and had decided to use bales of skunk as their relaxation method. They soon invited us back to unwind. As Hindus, Bindi and Sunita weren't sure but the waiter said it was fine, and he was a local so he must have known. After a few bong-rounds back at the cabin, they spoke about their tough years in the military working at checkpoints (a bit like Tesco, but slightly more dangerous, apparently). They told us that being Israeli is something no foreigner can truly understand. But really, us girls totally related to their plight: Bindi and Sunita started crying because they were ashamed to be studying German and said their parents were a bit like the Nazis for making them go to university.

Then, I had an amazing idea: we should form a band! We could travel the world and create awareness about Israel. Everyone wanted to be the sitar player, so eventually we decided the band would have nine sitar players and a rhythm section. I offered to play that mad Indian drum thing that kind of sounds like a plop. Unfortunately, no-one knew how to say 'plop' in Hindi so when we went back to the tea shop to ask the waiter he just got confused. The Israelis then called him a stupid bastard, which was kind of excessive, but they have been through a lot.

After our failure to find a plop drum the band will now have nine sitar players and a decks master. We also decided to adopt stage names. I wanted to be Chewbacca, but they said it sounded too much like Jewbacca and was ruled out as anti-semitic. I eventually went with DJ Bombay Mix Master, partly because of its huge role in Mumbai history, but mostly because I was peckish. It's the heady combination of spicy chickpeas and militant Judaism, that makes Mumbai the greatest city in the world!

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