Thursday, January 21, 2010
I knew it!
I knew that a visit from her could never be uneventful! Not possible!
Colours and Patterns (let us just call her hubby Patterns for this post as I don't know if I am allowed to use his blog identity!!! hee hee!!!) landed in Dubai last Thursday afternoon. They had left their marriage certificate in Germany and Emirates refused to give them a transit visa without that. (Why is nobody surprised any more at UAE's strange ways!). So we took a visa for them separately through a travel agent.
They were quite thrilled to be able to call themselves 'single' after 10 years of marriage and a few years of 'going steady' before that! :D So they kept repeating every two hours that they are not related! I was scared to put them in the same room knowing UAE's morality code! ;)
Well...the story I wanted to narrate was a different one.
I am not sure if you all know...but as an Indian in Dubai you can live many different kind of lives. You can live the 'labour camp' way, the 'bachelor' way, the 'Indian' way, the 'multicultural' way and also the 'European' way! Not sure if there are more ways....maybe some of you can tell me...
I am sure you all have read the several degrading articles and hence do not need me to explain the labour camp life.
The bachelor life means paying a rent of 1000 dhs or less and spending another 750 or 1000 on food and living in a shared apartment - sometimes with bunk beds and 6 people in a room...sometimes with only 2-3 in a room.
The highest population of Indian families live the 'Indian' way - which translates roughly to 'when in the UAE live like the Indians'. This means that you speak your native language, celebrate all your festivals, cook your type of food, have only
Indian friends, wear Indian clothes or western clothes with Indian jewellery (!!!!), watch Indian channels, read Indian magazines, teach your children in Indian schools, hang your clothes in your balcony to dry, decorate your door with stuff,draw kolams or rangolis, teach kids Indian dance and music, go for satsang,bhajans and yoga classes etc....
The 'multi cultural' or 'European' way is when you live in areas/buildings with mostly Europeans or other nationalities around. You have a mixed lifestyle and are a little confused. You are scared to wear Salwar Kameez. Teach your children in British schools and send them for ballet classes. Parents and children speak English with different accents at home.
Well...since we arrived in Dubai, we have lived the 'Indian' way. It was not a conscious decision...because we are quite open and adaptable. It was just that our job and the area we live in did not force us to make any changes. While I do meet people of all nationalities on my official demos and meetings, the company is Indian and hence the culture is Indian as well. Our social life (what there is of it) is totally Indian. It was only last month that we moved into a nice, expensive two bedroom apartment from a much smaller single bedroom apartment....the blessing of the recession!
So this weekend we had a full house - a cousin and wife from India on visit, Colours and Patterns, three of us, the BIL and another cousin brother.
On Saturday morning, colours had fixed up an appointment with her MBA classmate at Starbucks. She left to meet him.
The rest of us were home. I, like a good hostess, made a nice (I hope!) breakfast of Poori and Potato curry. So we had a late and relaxed breakfast. And all of us were in pyjamas and nighties, sitting at the dining table. We had finished breakfast and
were having some discussion with our plates in front of us, occassionally licking our fingers when the doorbell rang.
We open the door and we find Colours there with...................this French guy!!!!!!!
All of us almost collapsed in shock and shame. My first impulse was to run and get an Aarti platter and do an Aarti for him with tears in my eyes...(first time a saayip* is coming home!!!)
Our lady had brought her friend to meet us with absolutely NO WARNING and here we were all dressed like beggars and with dirty hands and plates. None of us could even shake hands with him!
We somehow manage our hellos and how are yous, hoping that our brilliant and charming smile will somehow make him forget the rest of our appearance!
Then we huddle in the kitchen discussing what we should do next. With my experience with books and movies, I say...'we should offer him something to drink! I will go and ask him, "would you like a drink?" ' This was vetoed down because if he asks for Whisky and soda, a Martini or a Vodka as they do in movies, we wouldn't have any!!! So I go and ask him 'Can I offer you some fruit juice?' Poor guy takes pity on me and accepts.
We then left Colours and Patterns to take care of their guest and stayed away.
I still shudder when I imagine what he would have thought when the door opened and he saw a whole lot of people in a 2 bedroom apartment, all in rags, licking their plates and fingers!!!!
*Mallu version of 'sahib'..legacy of the British colonial rule