1) Dress appropriately,((1)) in Indian clothing if possible. This will be taken as a sign of respect.
2) In your daypack, carry a water bottle and sunscreen;((2)) Hindu rites can be long, and you may be standing in the sun for an extended time.
3) Wear comfortable shoes, too!((3))
4) Find a safe place to stand.((4)) Be aware of people around you.((5))
5) Observe local customs.((6))
6) Attempting to speak the local language can go a long way. Even a few key phrases will help you fit in.
“Ruk SAA-le VAR-na mai IT-ni jor se CHIK-o-ti ka-TUN-gi tuj-HE”((7))
“AH-be ME-re PI-che jo bhi hath DI-a, HA-ta le JAL-di SE”((8))
7) When in doubt, take your cue from the actions of those around you.((9))
 The color of mourning is white. Not knowing you were going to a funeral, your violet Punjabi dress will have to do.
 Slip the baggie of your father’s ashes in your pocket. You promised him far places. Perhaps his grey, gritty, posthumous self will be less racist.
 In Mumbai there are 58,000 taxis, 71,550 buses and 246,458 auto-rickshaws. When the city reverently declares a bandh, or has that total shut-down imposed upon them by stick-wielding young men in shirts of Shiv Sena orange, none of them will run. Take a train to Dadar, then walk the eerie streets emptied of traffic, every shop’s steel door rolled down, every post and tree fluttering with orange bunting and Indian flags.
 The crowd of eleven lakh people (just over or under a million, depending on the political affiliation of those counting), will fill the seven-street intersection of Gadkari Chowk, every building and every tree decked with men and the biggest building decked with a five-story photo of Bal Thackeray. At this point, you will realize you are the only woman here alone, and the only white person. This is not a good time to refer to Thackeray as “the Hitler of India,” mention suicide bombers, or bring up the 1992 riots that killed Dev Patel’s mother in Slumdog Millionaire.
The men will push you forward and press against you in a way you are not quite sure is sexual harassment. If you wave your little green digital camera, it will be assumed you are a journalist. The police will beckon you through the human chain making an aisle through the crowd, allowing you to join the free-roaming reporters. Watch where their cameras point, and point your camera, too.
 Your father’s voice in your head says, “You look like a marshmallow in a bag of raisins.” Now, you are ashamed to think his thought, but grateful to hear his voice.
 The funeral truck, decked in flowers like a Rose Bowl float, will be pulled toward you by mourners hauling ropes tied to the bumper. When the crowd surges into the wake of the truck, flow with them. Ignore the grabbing hands reaching for your flesh in the folds of your salwar khameez. At least they aren’t treating you like a tourist.
When the truck reaches Shivaji Park and the body is unloaded, the crowd will surge again. You must stay upright. If you fall, you will be trampled. If you pass a policeman and are yanked back, do not panic. Politely unhitch the strap of your bag from his gun and step again into the mosh pit of sadness. You must stay upright. Your look of distress will be recognized by a man on the truck in mourning white. You will recognize him from the front page. When he jumps down gallantly to shield you with his body from the crowd, he will rub his dick on you with great vigor. Shame him.
“Stop it, I will fucking pinch you so hard.”
 “Whoever this is, stop touching my ass.”
 Your whiteness will ease your path into the park. A wreath from the pile provided for mourners will ease your path toward the stage. And when you pause at the foot of the stairs, uncertain, Sonia Gandhi will turn to you with solemn eyes and reach back her hand.
Your host will receive a phone call from London. “Is your lodger a white lady in a violet Punjabi dress? She is even now on the television, touching the feet of Bal Thackeray.”
You will cross the stage like a dream, the sea of faces, the sea of orange, the flutter of flags replaced by the licking of flames. A son will walk around the pyre, a son who was on time for his father’s death, held his father’s hand at the bedside, lit his father’s fire.
You will wish you, too, had the power to stop a city, to cover it with streamers, to say, My father is dead. Mourn with me.
You will sit cross-legged on the grass, among the white sarees of the women’s section, and imagine that you are all mourning together, that Mumbai is mourning your father as well as their own.
Home base is currently Dubai, where “The Pork Shop” is a separate, dimly lit room at the back of the supermarket. It’s like buying meat porn. (Author photo credit: Miko)