one hundred three

She boarded the carriage like the Maharani of Bombay, wrapped in a profoundly purple sari, a jewelled bindi resting on her forehead.  She sidled into the seat across from me, accompanied by a younger maiden in western clothes and middle-aged woman in traditional garb. 

As the train belched out of Calicut, she heaved a discontented sigh while thumbing through Bollywood magazines. Just because they insisted she be a Princess of the People didn’t mean she had to enjoy The Great Unwashed Express.

An hour into the journey, she was simultaneously flicking through her glamour rags and flicking away the unwanted attentions of her lady-in-waiting, who’d grown long bored of her Nancy Drew novel.

“Sisters,” I whispered conspiratorially. “The worst, right?” Neither responded, but the woman giggled.

“It is their age,” she chirped in her syllable-timed accent.

“You’re from here?” I asked, now that the Princess’ ice was broken.

“Yes. Cochin. But haven’t lived there for ages.” She nodded to the Princess and her pest. “We bring our daughters back from the States every year.”

“Ah, lovely. Whereabouts?”

The Princess slapped shut her magazine, glaring at her mother.

“They’re from Kansas.”

Turning as crimson as her bindi, Dorothy’s cover was blown.