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“Nice tie.” I hear it probably ten times a day. Everyone on the street wants to compliment my tie. Some people have even offered to buy it.

“Are you here for business?” they continue. Everyone assumes I am on business. Apparently, people in India only wear a tie when they are working: wearing a tie at any other time is unthinkable.

“No,” I tell them. “It’s just my style.”

“Ah,” they reply. “You have good a style.”

I must confess: my style has changed a bit during our two weeks in India.

The suspenders are out. They are just not practical here. We haven’t seen a single cloud in Delhi, and the lowest temperature we have encountered so far is about 34 C (92 F). To be comfortable, I have to keep my clothing loose. I wear my shirt untucked, and no suspenders.

Shoes are in. I thought about bare footing it in India: it is quite fashionable amongst poor people and holy men. But then I saw the streets. Main Bazaar is part sewer, part landfill, part walking path, and part highway. I cannot count how many times I have felt the sickening suction of something pulling on my feet and said a silent prayer of thanksgiving for my sandals.

I’ve taken to wearing a Rosary atop my clothing. I’ve grown weary of seeing all the other tourist types wearing malas and prayer beads for religions they probably don’t even practice. I wanted in on the spiritual showmanship. It’s actually led to wonderful conversations.

Hindi speakers have a really, really hard time with my name.

Every time we meet Nicky, he asks me to repeat my name. We throw it back and forth two or three times, until what comes out of his mouth vaguely resembles proper English pronunciation. “Nataa-yull” is about as close as he’s come. Not too bad.

“I think I found your name!” he told us, excitedly. “Nitalian! I just think Italian, and put a ‘N’ there!”

“You could try ‘Nathan,’” Sarah volunteered. “‘Nathan’ is a nickname.”

“Nayttle?” Nicky offered. We eventually worked it up to “Nayten.”

“’Nate’ is another nickname,” I said, reluctantly.

“Nate!” Nicky repeated. “Nate is very easy.”

I’m considering going by “Nate” in India, for the sake of my “th”-challenged brothers.

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