This afternoon as I picked Dumpie up from Kindergarten, I was accosted by a rather stern looking Indian woman.
"I must speak to you" she said curtly, and took me off to one side.
I was perplexed. She hadn't even introduced herself...what did she want?
"At certain times in the month you must NOT walk past that temple."
What temple was she referring to?
She pointed to the tiny brightly coloured structure in the vacant lot separating our house from the Kindergarten. I cut across it twice daily with Dumpie, stepping gingerly over all manner of waste and bits of iron, coconuts, fallen branches, discarded bricks, etc. It's an eyesore, and believe me, I don't much enjoy traversing it (neither does Dumpie as he's always making me carry him lest he trip and fall) but it's a necessary evil as it saves me having to walk ALL the way down to the road and take the long roundabout way there.
(I must interject here and acknowledge that I am doing myself no favours in once again discussing commuting time to schools. Back in London I often got reprimanded for grumbling that Egg's school was a five minute stroll away when I could have easily chosen to send him to the excellent school directly across the street. But never mind...)
But back to the story....
To be fair, when I looked closely at the brightly painted tiny structure she was pointing at, I supposed that yes, I could see that it was indeed a (albeit somewhat hidden) temple.
I was told that every month I must NOT walk past it, for four days or so (she would later change this to five), insisting that I either skirt around the dangerous outside bit (like a demented crab), or better yet - take the long way round.
Wanting to respect her, I sort of mumbled, "So today - and for four days - you would prefer it if I didn't go that way?" I asked hesitantly, still no wiser as to the reason for her request, but assuming it might have something to do with a religious holiday or something...
She shook her head in an annoyed fashion and asked, "Is it your time of the month?"
I beg your pardon! What on earth would compel this complete stranger to ask such an intimate question, to me - a stranger, without even introducing herself?! Not to mention totally sidestepping her original request for me to keep well away from this little temple?
Moments later it all became clear. For reasons still unbeknownst to myself, this woman must have concluded that it was my 'time of the month' (which it most certainly is NOT I hasten to add) and wanted to warn me. (Either that or she has been sneakily watching me drop off and pick-up Dumpie from school everyday and given we've just passed the six week mark, decided it was well within her rights to make her move.)
I was flabbergasted...a touch embarrassed...and therefore muttered some sort of agreement, all the while trying to convey that TODAY I was going to take my usual route home because it was NOT 'my time of the month'.
She appeared placated, and as a parting shot suggested that I stay well away from the temple for five days each month - just to be sure. In a gesture showing that she understood the inconvenience, she admitted that at home, she's not even allowed to sit down on the chairs or sofa during her 'time of the month'.
This odd exchange was rounded off rather nicely when I got home, when Dumpie pointed to my breasts and asked if my nipples had names.
I give up.