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:
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!
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?
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"?