Monday, July 9, 2007

Finding Mainland China

On Friday night, Nitin and I walked into a swanky Asian restaurant called Mainland China for our first “date night” in weeks. I did the talking and asked for a table and as soon as my accent and pronunciation of “table for two” gave away my American-ness, a scantily clad woman nearby rolled her eyes and whispered something to her dinner companion. I don’t know what she said but I imagined it to be about the expatriate invasion of New Delhi and our privileged ways.
Just then my mobile rang. It was my great-aunt, a left-leaning writer recounting her trip to my grandfather's village that day and my father's birthplace. There had been a wedding, they'd had pigeon and goat and chicken and lots of native yummy vegetables. We caught up and she asked me a for a favour (Toni Morrison's email so she could get translation rights to The Bluest Eye.) We spoke in Assamese the whole time and the acoustics of the place were such that everybody could hear me.
I know I shouldn't care but I wondered if the woman who had rolled her eyes accepted me as Indian. I looked at another group of twentysomethings with really high heels and really low necklines and wondered if they had conversations like this with family too. I wondered if they had ever eaten pigeon.

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