I was mistaken last night for a Gujrati. I know, I looking nothing like this guy, but apparently I don't have a Bengali face. Well, I am brown, so won't be mistaken for a Nordic ski instructor soon, but there was I, in the washroom of a sports bar.
I had gone to play some pool with a few friends, and was just emerging from the washroom, when this dude walked out of one stall. Then he looked at me, and without missing a beat, started to shoot off his mouth.
Well, it sounded Greek to me, but I could make out 'kemcho', amongst others. The he stopped, and looked expectantly at me.
"I am sorry?" I had a what-the-f-is-wrong-with-you look (I perfected that look).
Then the guy got really angry.
"You!" He waved a finger at me. "You are here and ashamed to be a Gujrati! Shame on you!" [he pronounced it same as in samed to be Gujrati and same on you].
And all I could think of at this moment was dude! wash your hands!
I wanted to tell him, loudly, in my best Punjabi accent "Oye! Tusi kya bolrao? Asi jaat Panjaaban!"
Instead, ofcourse, I said. "You are terribly wrong. I am Bengali."
"Oh," The guy deflated a bit. "Hokay!"
Still shaking my head, I walked out, before starting to laugh. I wished I did speak Gujrati, so I could understand what he was saying. And why would you start to talk to a stranger, IN THE WASHROOM, before you washed your hands? Eeeeyuck.
I wonder what he would have thought had he walked into our group, which included one Gujrati guy, who was actually yakking on the phone with his girlfriend in his mother tongue.
I have noticed this fact amongst some of us desi people too. We meet a non-desi, we politely talk about the weather, the terrible effect of potholes on our cars, and whether the Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup ... ever. We meet a desi - boom! We talk about how your father is doing, how much are you earning, how's your job, whether you are married, how the rash-on-uncle's-bum that aunty is so worried about is doing... wow. You may hardly know the guy, but you know how much his third son is earning.
Maybe it's because we don't like to talk about personal stuff with non-desis that we talk about the weather.
May is South Asian Heritage Month in Canada (h/t Isheeta). In Toronto, this would be the month desis throng to Dundas Square and Harbourfront for all the masti and fundas shows (May 20,21). During elections in January this year, I actually had MP Bill Graham, who was Minister of Defense at that time, hand me a pamphlet for the Liberal Party on the subway. And the pamphlet was in several languages, Hindi, Arabic and Chinese being some of them. The Minister of Defense! Can you imagine Donald Rumsfield handling out Vote Me in Arabic in downtown LA?
Long live desis and desi-isms.
Tags: Desi Toronto