Before I came to India, I had read that a lot of people would ask me whether I was married…just for the informational value. Unsurprisingly then, I have got this question countless times from the locals by now. One guy that I see occasionally at work has asked me this demanding question so often that I have lost count of it, as if he expects me to be married one week, divorced the next and married again in the third week …or something. We have usually had the same routine conversation that goes like this:
“How are you?“
“I’m fine thank you. How are you?”
“Fine. Are you married?”
“…I don’t know, I’m not sure…”
I have not yet been able to come up with a sufficient answer to this last question. In fact I think it will require an extensive research on my behalf…I have to decide what to write my Master thesis about within a few days and now I think I’ve got my main research question ready:
Why am I not married?
I will take on extensive research to reach conclusion and not finish till I’ve clinched a concrete and bullet-proof result. Only after that I will be able to provide my colleague from work with a sufficient answer.
Searching for baby clothes at the bazar
One of my best friends became a father recently, so I went to the market (bazar) to buy baby clothes. In my understanding, the word “baby” refers to a brand new kid, maximum a few months old. Google seems to have the same understanding of the word. The merchant at the market had other ideas, as can be seen from our conversation:
“Namaskar…Do you have any baby clothes?”
“Namaskar…Sure, for how old bebe [his pronounciation of the word]? 10 years old? 5 years old? 7 years old?” He stretched his arms to varying lengths to symbolize standard sizes of babies of these age groups.
“No, for a newborn baby”
“OK, but how old? Is it your baby? Are you married?”
“No, I’m not married. It’s a newborn baby, brand new. My friend has it”
“Aaa, newborn OK, yes I have”
Watching a foreigner eat for education and entertainment
Two days before Christmas I went on a field trip with three colleagues from work. We left Udaipur city in the safari jeep and headed out to the rural settings of the district, covering several Gram Panchayat (local government) offices for handing out invitations to trainings and collecting phone numbers of elected representatives.
We stopped for a while in Sarada village, so I was able to open my lunch box and eat at the back of the jeep. Soon after I started eating, a few school kids approached and one said “Aapka nam kya hai?” then giggled and ran a few meters away to an adult, asking him how to say the same in English. The kids then approached again and said “What is your name?” giggled again and ran away. A few moments later, around thirty school kids had gathered behind the jeep and watched me eat my lunch. I was not sure how best to react, but I tried to act like they were not there and just eat. I felt like I was an animal in a zoo, being watched and observed by the children. Some would giggle, others would just stare and a few hit the sides of the jeep (probably curious to see the reaction). They were still standing there in a group when we left the village.