A Dumpling Treat.. An Oriental friend in the Newlands
“Do you know to make Dumplings?”
It sounds a bit amusing now.. This was the first thing I had asked my Chinese neighbor, who had moved from China, just about the same time we had relocated to the US.
She invited me to her home in the next few days, and taught me the intricate folds of making different dumplings.. From then onwards, we had a mini food and culture exchange program.. She would send in warm dumplings, and I would introduce her to the world of idlis, dosas, sambhar and other Indian food. And she would be overwhelmed looking into my kitchen — the multitude of vessels, grains, and spices..
With her broken English and with my Indian accent, and online translations to our help, we would strike up conversations — our diversity not a barrier, but a ground for curiosity and discussion..
Her first-grade daughter told her- “Indian Mother looking Beautiful”.. That line from the little girl sounded so Antique.. I replied “Really? In my home dress doing chores at home. Nobody has told me like this before :)”
“We judge beauty by the face, by the eyes and the kindness, not the appearance” That was too straight and sweet of the mother.
In the beginning days of relocation, I felt very very resented.. So much work and cooking at home.. Missing friends.. Nobody to talk to.. Cold weather.. No driving.. But then seeing her cope up all alone in the US, was a big strength to me.. Her husband was virtually in China, she did not know English, she had to teach English to her daughter, she managed driving, always running errands, and even a job after a few months, and I felt I was complaining for nothing..
She was from a family of Acupuncture specialists and showed me a few things. I would in turn teach her yoga and little English.. We would find something and learn from other’s cultures.
On Halloween’s day, my kids were overwhelmed and busy maximizing their candy collection.. Her Chinese friends went to Palo Alto to collect candies and have a sneak peek of the Apple Facebook Google households..
She would ask me about Modi and Jiddu Krishna Murthy and I felt Wow.. She knew all this.... She was a big fan of Amir Khan and had watched 3 Idiots and talked about Dhangal. She was a devotee of Buddha and turns out, introduces me to the Indian Episode series on Buddha.. And so polite, kind, and sweet with her daughter, that she seemed like a mini Buddha to me.. It was interesting to note her knowledge and curiosity about India and Indians.
I would try to sing an Indian classical tune and she would play piano magically closing her eyes.. Her daughter my first honorary Piano teacher, gave me a few lessons too..
One day she innocently asked.. “It seems Indians are in top ranks in companies like Google, and Facebook and they are not so aggressive like Chinese.. Is it because they do not eat as much meat?” Well, that kept me thinking.. Back in India, all the people are not so refined.. They do shout at each other.. Probably the best come over here and they learn how to behave in the corporate ranks.. Probably the genes and vegetarianism also matter..
As all good things end soon, she moved to another town and like they say out of sight out of mind and we got used to not being neighbors anymore..