Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The subcontinental

Invariably, it appears that when Americans are thinking of India, they're really thinking of Chicken Tikka Masala. Or, Tandoori chicken. And some of them think, I'm told, that the Tandoori chicken , owing to its crimson complexion, must be very hot. I've been asked if we eat Tandoori Chicken everyday. I did not have the heart to tell the person that my resources back home are too limited to build out a Tandoor at home. So, I said something to the effect of "Oh no, just on Sundays or some such special occasions!"

Then, one time, I had to explain this whole thing about how usually in a family with both a daughter & son, customarily the daughter gets married first. This led to many hypothetical questions about many-children-families & the associated ramifications about age differences & the like.

And then, making sense of arranged marriage was about the hardest thing to do. Admittedly, it works & has worked for a while & there are possibly good cultural reasons for it. My problem was actually more about explaining the set up process in the process of which I, perhaps injudiciously, mentioned the word "pageant"... needless to say; I could not rescue my explanations from that point onwards.

Americans think of Indian food, Indian traditions & Indian IT.

Indians, to the contrary, think of the Punjabi Tandoor, the Tamil Pongal, the Bangalore IT scene, the power corridors of Delhi, the ever-prospering Gujaratis & do not think at all of the North-Eastern states.

The whole, it appears, could not be farther, in our hearts & minds, from the parts.

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