Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just like family

Since the time I landed in the US, my identity of being an Indian has been even more reinforced. Thus, when I see fellow desis anywhere in the US, I tend to feel a strange kind of kinship towards them - hey, we are from the same country! I remember the first time I went to the Livermore temple from Davis: I was so thrilled to see the large desi congregation there (unlike the sparsely desi-populated Davis) that I actually clapped my hands in excitement. Of course, now that I live in a total desi hub, spotting desis is nowhere near exciting, but the feeling of kinship remains.

I have often noticed that I am not the only one who feels that way. In fact some people take the feeling of kinship to the next level: they treat you like family. Sample just a few of my experiences:

Incident #1:
Happened a few years ago when I had just moved to the bay. Those were my pre-car-owning days. In order to keep an appointment without requesting time off from work, I had to order a cab. When I got into the cab, the desi cabbie took one look at my outfit - jeans, t-shirt, sneakers and backpack (yeah, that was my work "look" for more than a year after joining work) and assumed I was a student.

Then he advised me in a kindly, paternal voice, "Next time you know, you should take public transportation. Cabs are expensive. It must be difficult for a student like you." Then, ignoring my protestations, he gave me a lecture on thrifty living all the way to my destination. After all, desis do not let other desis go broke due to taking cabs all the time!

Incident #2:
Happened beginning of this year. I had to go to a desi professional to get some tax-work done. This chappie looked at my tired face (I had headed out right in the middle of a hectic work day) and started off: "You are like a daughter to me" (Uh-huh, why do all my warning bells start pealing big time whenever I hear this ominous words? Turns out my warning bells were right though).

He continued, "So I hope you won't mind when I say this." (Yeah right!) "The next time you come, you should wear bangles on your hands." (Gosh darn it, that was just the advice I had been missing all these years!)

And then continued to add some more requirements - basically outlining the Ideal Indian Woman look as envisioned in the early 1900s. Since I was supposed to be "like a daughter" to him I somehow managed to have a plasticky Ash-Rai-ey grin on my face the entire time without snapping. So did the "like a father" guy offer any discount to his "like a daughter"? No way! I got free advice, no?

Incident #3:
Last weekend, in NYC. The desi cab driver was super thrilled to see desi passenger (i.e. me) get into the cab. Even before I had completely shut the door, he asked, "Are you from Delhi?" Within two minutes he had established that I was not from Delhi, I stay in California and I speak a smattering of Hindi. In the rest of the 45 minute ride to the JFK airport, we covered a significant amount of my life history in reverse chronological order. I think we were covering events from my third grade schooling when the airport arrived and the driver reluctantly dropped me off.

The funniest part was, the driver got a call on his cell phone in between. I thought the conversation was done and had happily slipped into my own reverie when I was jolted out of it with an insistent "Madam, madam, madam..." - the driver had finished his call and wanted to continue the conversation. Oh well, you can't ignore desi "family"!
Am I the only one who attracts "family"?


Viji said...

LOL! Hilarious! Especially the last experience with the cabbie. hahahaha!

Wear Bangles nah- you are representing our country there. LOL. :D :D :D

Altoid said...

Oooh, I got some...

This lady Beena at the bank near my place, God! I'd dread the times I'd need a wire transfer or make changes to my CD, cos she'd log in to all my accounts, see my balances and launch into a 1hr spiel about how I(beti, tum galat kar rahe ho) should invest in buying a house(since she was ALSO the mortgage consultant or some crap). It got to annoying, I'd text a friend to call me so I could ask her to hurry up. Now I've just changed to another branch(Praise the Lord for making them build another one within a few miles).

Next the desi gas station attendent where I frequent regularly- he objects to my staying alone. Apparently roommates save a lot of money and provide companionship.

T said...

Did I ever tell you about how I run as far away from a desi as possible when I am in any of the 'marts or get's etc. I hate all of those *replaceanicetamilswearwordhere*'s who come to talk very very sweet and how you remind them of their long lost friend they havent met in 10 yrs and after a brief pause ask "i am into consulting and have some side business. how interested would you be in making lot of money on the side practically doing nothing". *replaceanicetamilswearwordhere* !!! *replaceanicetamilswearwordhere* !!!!

rads said...

heheheh, move East, no one will 'adopt' u :p

SK said...

LOL! :--)
Never happened to me. Desis have always been rude to me by ignoring me completely. But of course I dont live in the bay. :--)

When we went to do taxes this year, the Indian lady adviced us to buy a house to reduce taxes, I think she gives regardless of whether we were Desis or not ;--)

Joy said...

This was hilarious. If you are in NJ, people would ask your entire history - your marital status, visa status, any siblings in matter of 15 min. I must admit though that these questions have reduced now. Either people have become more sane or I have known to deal with these questions and people better. Not sure .

Archana Bahuguna said...

The "bangles" is a little too much :-)

Archana said...

Viji - :-D! Right!

Altoid - ah, misery loves company :-D! LOL @ Apparently roommates save a lot of money and provide companionship. :-D!

T - oh my God! Those "business" people are the ultimate annoying folks! I always have a "I will hit anyone who tries to talk to me" look on my face whenever I go to Walmart to ward off these "enterpreneurs".

Rads - ahem, incident #3 happened in the east ;-P!

SK - you are lucky :-)!

Joy - wow, looks like you have been interrogated before too :-)! How do you deal with the questions - some tips will be useful :-D!

Archana - I know :-(!

Joy said...

Actually most of the questions used to come from totally strangers not tax consultant or anyone with whom I am dealing with some other important matter.

In these cases, except for keeping a grim face and answering to minimal, you can start cooking up stories - At one point you can be single and living with roomies,in another one single living with partner (juicy .. this will drive them crazy ) haha... Just know your audience and limits and have fun !

Archana said...

Joy - heheheh :-)! Making up stories sounds like a lot of fun. The next stranger who asks me personal stuff gets is going to get a treat *evil grin*!

Arvind said...

:), well my first 'desi' experience was 3 days into USA, when i smiled at a desi-couple, who cold shouldered me and mumbled "pudusa vandirukka desi polirukku" :))

and then, my second experience was, when a desi smiled at me, and i was all goody, till i got an energy bar from him, and the famous question : "do you about mcdonalds business model" ?


re: incident 1- am sure he accepted the tip

re: incident 2 - you should have asked for dependent tax deduction using "like a father" ;)

re: incident 3 -you should have narrated that story, when you as a kid, boarded the "dreaded" cab, and the cabwala pestered you by asking your name, and how you smacked his head with a paper-weight, and how the driver lost his senses ever since :P

good stuff i say ! :D

Archana said...

Arvind - welcome aboard! LOL @ paper-weight story technique :-))!