A Third culture kid (TCK) is a term used to refer to children raised in a culture other than their parents’ (or the culture of the country given on the child’s passport, where they are legally considered native) for a significant part of their early development years.

After two days of learning about the American School of Bombay, today, I actually stepped out of the bubble of Bandra Kurla to explore the streets of Mumbai with an amazing guide and friend, Rory and her former student, Kelly, a third culture kid. Oh, and dare I forget Moen, Rory’s super incredible personal driver.

We started the day at Indigo with a lamb skewer and tzatziki and a most delicious (and healthy) carrot, orange and ginger juice (oh and of course the necessary latte). Watching the hand-drawn carts of produce pass by while braving the 91-degree heat of the patio, it seemed unusually comfortable, and well… truly delightful when paired with the company of an incredibly talented teacher and her former student from her days teaching in Estonia.

After catching up on the interesting history of a third culture kid and her respected teacher and mentor, I learned that I have led a truly sheltered life. Not one I would trade for anything, but nonetheless one that knew little about what it meant to struggle and persist through amazing obstacles.

My heart was warmed to see the relationship that Rory and Kelly had developed over the years. There was a deep understanding, empathy, and respect for one another, yet as they had grown into adulthood, a casual friendship and camaraderie, and they made me laugh, hard! Poor Moen, driving three crazy women around and stopping at our whimsy. He reminds me of a Muslim version of my father. Patient. Kind. Humorous. Filled with stories.

After lunch, we made the most important stop of all. Shen Reflexology was, by far, the best foot massage I have ever had! After three days on my feet drawing, Rory knew what I needed most! I don’t think I’ve ever had a harder time not laughing while trying to relax into the moment of a 1-hour (yes 1-hour!) foot massage. Why don’t they have these in America?! Ok, maybe they do, but not for $12 American dollars that includes a scalp, shoulder, neck AND back massage! Rory and I already have plans to return just before I board the plane to return home on Tuesday. 🙂

Our tour was nothing short of amazing. It both intrigued my senses, and tugged at my heart. The poverty and wealth in the streets of Mumbai hold such poetic beauty and mystique. As Rory and Moen shared the history, politics and economical history of Mumbai, we braved the Sunday traffic and stopped regularly for important photo opps (despite the honks and disdain of Mumbai street traffic).

The Gateway to India, Chowpatty Beach, the Laundry District, all amazing sights. But, perhaps the most intriguing were the people on the streets. Their attire, their religious practices and traditions, the notable division of wealth, their varying languages, their methods of labor, their recreational activities and foods. There is such beauty and desolation here. When I am lucky enough to spend the day with people like Rory, Kelly and Moen, I am reminded how complex the world is… and compelled to learn more.

Tomorrow, I will be learning more about Third Culture Kids and the educators that support them at the American School of Bombay (ASB) Middle and High School. Continue to follow my journey as I enter Day 4 here in Mumbai, India.

What more will I learn about coloring outside the lines?