It was a beautiful, clear morning in South India. I boarded a local bus to the next town where I could easily tick off my long shopping list. I was grateful to get a seat as this route gets packed, mostly with students on their way to school.
The view out the window is familiar but stunning with its fields, bright red earth, occasional lagoons and scenic temple spires looming skyward. Women tend to sit together on buses and some buses even have a ladies section. I sensed that the local woman seated next to me was studying me in great detail. I smiled at her. With extreme shyness and hesitation, she smiled back.
She touched my bracelets, admired my embroidered salwar/kameez outfit and admired my matching tie dye dupatta/traditional chest scarf. She pointed to my long hair and light-colored eyes too. Her friends across the aisle watched this interaction with near envy. For a moment, I was a celebrity.
When we finally got to our destination, I pulled out my camera and with sign language asked if I could take her picture. This is the result and remains a wonderful lasting memory.