Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: India (02/12/09)
TITLE: Postcard From India
By C Harricharan
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On the last Friday of every month, some of the tellers from our bank would get together for lunch somewhere special. Everyone would take a turn at selecting the restaurant of chioce. That Friday, Sadhna selected an Indian restaurant, her favorite. She offered me a ride to lunch at, “The Indian Palace”, in her dashing red Ford Mustang GT.
I must admit it was a memorable experience right from the start. Sadhna was a very good driver, but the highlight of the ride was the music. Her brother, she explained, fixed up the music system with the best CD player and speakers, before passing his car on to her. She popped a music CD in the player, released the handbrake and we were off .
The first strains of music from the speakers was a total surprise. It was rich, bold and so full of melody; then came the words, in a foreign language! It was duet. I closed my eyes for a moment, just soaking up the music.
“ This is beautiful, “I told Sadhna, what kind of music is it?”
A smile lighted up her face as she replied, “Don’t you just love it?, It’s from one of my favorite movies, “Kuch Kuch Hoota Hai”, this is a love song.”
“What kind of movie is that?” I asked.
“It’s Indian.” She said. “Filmed in India, with Indian movie stars. Everything is Indian, the language, the music and the setting of the movie., It is like a postcard from home.”
I wondered aloud at her unusual response about a postcard.
Smiling, she explained that living in the US could sometimes be very lonely for some Indians. To many of them this was a strange land, with strange customs and a foreign language.
“We only get together on special occasions, and not very often, but the music and of course the movies bring a touch of home to us.”
Lunch was an unforgettable experience. On entering the restaurant, we were seated in a warm cosy corner to the sounds of instrumental music. The red tablecloth was trimmed with gold tassels. The murals on the walls depicted places, like the Taj Mahal, with pictures of Elephants and peacocks in all their glory.
The waiters were all men, dressed in their traditional Indian clothing, including the headwear. Soothing music and soft lighting, along with the smell of the many delicious foods, created a tranquil and beautiful atmosphere. I tasted ‘puri’ and ‘aloo ghobi’, along with ‘kheer’ and a cup of genuine Indian ‘Chai’, for the very first time. It was the beginning of a new experience, my very first Indian meal.
Later, I thought about Sadhna being an Indian in America. She did not have an accent and was always confident and friendly. After working together for almost a year, I never would have guessed she was a child from another land. She was just one of us.
That evening, I stopped by Blockbuster on my way home. To my disappointment they did not have ‘Kuch Kuch” anything , or any other Indian movie. In desperation I called Sadhna who was still at work.
“Where do you get your Indian movies from?”
“ They really do come from India,” she said, “I get mine from Indian stores in Atlanta, Georgia or other Indian communities.”
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Every other weekend, I hurry home with an Indian movie borrowed from Sadhna. Saturday night was chosen for my cultural enlightenment. With dimmed light, a bowl of popcorn, and the much needed box of tissues I take possession of the sofa and the universal remote control.
It is time to open my postcard from India, that mysterious and distant land across the sea. The title of tonight’s postcard is “Chalte Chalte”, I selected ‘English subtitles’ and adjusted the volume.
Just then my three years old daughter climbed into my lap. “Can I sleep with you Mommy”? She said rubbing sleepy eyes.
I smiled and tucked her under the blanket next to me. “Can I see the pretty lady dance?”
“Just a little bit.” I said as we snuggled together in the flickering light of the fireplace.
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