Monday, October 1, 2007

Tell Me How You Really Feel

First, as it is a holiday here in India, I must take a minute to say, "Happy Birthday Gandhi-Ji!"

Now, on with the show. Recently Mr. Smith has decided to grow a beard. This is something that he does about once a year. It starts out as a full beard, then it is whittled down to a sort of "follow the jawline" kind of beard, then it becomes a goatee. At this point it usually goes away. Once in a while it becomes a mustache or soul patch for a day before disappearing altogether. The reason I bring up Mr. Smith's facial hair is that it started a conversation he and I had about how blunt people are here. His beard has received mixed reviews. As usual, the negative responses are the most entertaining.

Every morning Mr. Smith walks past a desk with a guard or two behind it on his way up to his office. They usually salute sharply and leave it at that. The beard, however, was too much for one guard to let go without a comment. "Why do you grow this? It is for the uncivilized." This is an interesting opinion in a country where facial hair is often tied to religious traditions, and where most men at least grow a mustache.

I wish I could say this was the first such incident. Oh no. Our size often produces those warm and fuzzy comments that make you feel extra confident throughout your day. Here are a few of my favorite: "We have yoga in the park every morning, if you joined us you would not be so fat." "As a Doctor I will tell you that you must walk every morning. I do everyday and you can see I am very slim." "You are a very big man, but you move so well. Where do you get so much energy?" "Have you ever considered reducing?" Why, no! I have never considered 'reducing' before, thank goodness you mentioned it. You have changed my life forever! How I long for the days in the states where people just looked pointedly at the ice cream in my shopping cart.

One day I was invited to a neighbors house for tea. While I drank my warm, unpasteurized, unhomogenized, whole milk, I was informed that only uneducated people have more than one or two children, the school we had chosen for our daughters was sub-par, our generator was too noisy and polluting, and the furniture that had been provided for us was cheap and tacky. Oddly, we have not become bosom buddies.

Even at our favorite restaurant we are not safe. There is a Chinese restaurant here that we love. Mr. Smith and I generally go there for our date night. It always starts well, they bring us menus. We peruse the menu and choose what we would like to try. Then the waiter comes with a pad in hand as if he is going to take our order. He listens politely and sometimes even writes things down. At this point, he informs us why our order is wrong and what he will order instead. Someday I am going to ask why they bother giving us menus.

I can only hope that this habit of brutal honesty has not rubbed off on my children, as if kids aren't embarrassingly honest enough. This could make for some awkward moments when we return to the US.


suburbancorrespondent said...

Oh, wow - I would really hate that. Good luck.

Aunt Carol said...

What I want to know is at the chinese restaurant is what they give you instead of what you wanted, it is good???? or just healthy? Uck!

I alway loved your kids response to Grandma Smith saying "I need to go on a diet, I am fat" their response was "Grandma you're not fat, you are "soft". What great kids you have. They will never change because of the great parents they have!! Oh they have a great Aunt too :-)

Rachel said...

I hope that you document all such comments that your kids make, on returning to the states....that would be very funny for the rest of us! About the bluntness....I could not take that day after day. I would have a very hard time with it!

Marilyn said...

I hope they bring you something good since you can't get what you want. Glad my grandchildren love me fluffy or skinny. Of course they have never seen me skinny. :O)
When you come over here I will get you Taco Bell and you can have it any way you want.

suburbancorrespondent said...

Hey, I lost your e-mail address - can you send it to me?

Hunnydu72 said...

"Have you ever considered reducing?" Whatever do you mean? I have a hard enough replacing all the calories I burn.

It's a full time job. Work, work, work...