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02/06/2004: "silver."

My grandmother gave me a set of four thick bangles of Indian gold -- orange-hued and glittery. "For your wedding," she said, "but you can wear them now." I wore their weight on one wrist, and my own weathered silver bracelets on the other. When I moved to Harlem, I stopped wearing the gold ones and put them in the bank.

My mother never understood why I didn't like Indian gold. Or why I cut my hair short. Why I didn't go to temple every Sunday. Or why I spoke better German than I did Hindi. "I'm growing up," was my explanation then. My hair is still short. I always found gold to be too shiny, too much -- my favorite thing about silver was the dull black patina it developed when it wasn't polished.

She gave me one of her saris: deep green silk with a thick brocade of silver and black threads shaped like leaves. The only time I wore it, I think, was to a band party when all of the rest of my clothes were in the wash. "Your dress is so punk rock," some guy told me between puffs of Marlboro. "Huh? Oh, I'm Indian," I explained, but I felt like I was lying. Eager to excuse myself from the conversation, I went to get another beer.


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