Sunday, February 10, 2008


i am the youngest of three daughters. this is awesome for many reasons, including getting mellowed-out parents, lots of clothes, and not having to answer the door and carry on polite small talk when boring distant relatives or family friends come to visit.

however - it also means that i have little to no aptitude for making courteous chit chatter with these people. even at 26, i still have strong urges to run to my room and play solitaire on the computer when my parents' friends come to sit in the living room with my parents to drink tea and eat crunchy taiwanese snacks.

my friend's in-laws live in delhi, and they graciously offered to host me for dinner on one of my last nights in india. how lovely! i thought. they're around my parents' age, and are sweet and adorable. lok, the father, had just come home from work and was wearing a wool crepe navy suit and a cute navy hat. nirupma, the mother, was dressed casually in a t-shirt and flowy pants, and had glasses.

they showed me into the living room, which has a lovely sitting area filled with custom made, well-designed furniture (dark wooden end tables with glass tops), and beautiful paintings that were done by niru. niru filled some glass bowls with peanuts and almonds, lok made all of us small glasses of gin to sip, and we all leaned back and crossed our legs in anticipation of civilized conversation.

this night, i learned that this is what civilized people talk about:
  • petrol, the 1 lakh tata, traffic in delhi vs mumbai, and sustainable energy
  • the busy indian social calendar, and is it gauche to wear the same outfit to multiple weddings if you are to attend more than 10 weddings during one winter?
  • the fine art of buying a nice, hand-woven rug. also, what's the difference between rugs and carpets?
  • american almonds vs indian almonds. why are indian almonds so much more delicious?
this was a startling contrast from my usual conversation fare. examples:
  • how many penises have you seen? were they big or small?
  • would you rather have a butt on your forehead or two little legs coming out of your chin? yes, you must choose one.
  • if i had a kajillion dollars, i would buy a yacht. no, an island. no, wait - i would pay someone really smart to invent teleportation.
after nuts and gin, we ventured to the dining room for dinner. we had a nice, brothy mixed vegetable soup to start (which i had seconds of). perfectly salted, and very comforting. for dinner, niru went into kitchen and brought out some freshly warmed halved rolls that she had spread with a little bit of butter and cheese. 'put these in between,' she said, gesturing toward the plate of sliced red onions and plum tomatoes on one end, and fried potato balls on the other end.

'aah,' i said. i like it when people tell me how i'm supposed to eat things when i don't know what to do, especially when everyone's politely waiting on me to go first because i'm the guest.

i separated some of the outer rings of onion from the inner ones to avoid overpowering post-dinner breath, took two tomato slices, and squashed a potato ball into the bottom section of the roll with my fork. i ate self-consciously; not so quickly as to suggest that i was the crazy forest lady who hadn't eaten for weeks, but not too slowly to imply that i didn't thoroughly enjoy the meal. like i said, people my parents' age make me nervous.

for dessert, we had finely diced fruit (apples, pears, oranges, grapes, kiwis, etc) soaked in cold cream.

on the way home, i thought about how, despite the fact that we'd only discussed things that i
  • hadn't known many details about,
  • hadn't spent much time thinking about, and
  • wasn't naturally interested in, what a lovely time i'd had, and i settled in the backseat with a feeling of comfort.
then it occurred to me that they'd reminded me a lot of my parents. my dad is chatty and my mom is more shy; we sit around and talk about things i don't know much about, eat dinner, and call it a night. it's always nice to recruit a couple of nice people to be your parents when you are away.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

heh, cute post.

about conversation with old people, i mean, people your parents' age .. maybe you shouldn't think about the age difference. that makes it a lot easier.

i personally view all people as oranges, and it is my duty to suck all the juice out of them. that also makes conversation easier.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Yodaskin said...

Two little legs coming out of my chin, obviously.

11:52 AM  

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