I made a new friend on Saturday. Becky lured me to Ridgedale, a local shopping mall, with the promise of coffee. And there is an Apple Store there, which is the same as a toy store to me. I always forget that Beck’s capacity to shop and the pace she sets are much different than mine. I left her checking out a woman’s apparel store and went to Apple. I spent all the time I wanted to spend there and when I went back to check on her she was still looking at the same rack that she had been when I left.
So when she said she was going to go look for a bra, I told her I would hunker down in a chair in the common area, which was populated pretty much by men who were doing the same thing as I was. I’d been sitting for a few minutes when a Sikh gentleman about my age sat down with a girl of about four. He was wearing a suit and a bright blue turban and had his mustache trimmed with the ends pointing up, just like in the movies. Anxious to not be taken for a xenophobe, I gave him a big smile as he sat down. Not being a Minnesotan, he apparently took this for an invitation to conversation. In a very thick accent he informed me that the little girl was his granddaughter and that he was visiting from India. I never would have guessed. I asked him how he liked the weather, I think it was about five above at the time. He replied that it was indeed very cold in Minnesota, he had been visiting his son in California before he’d come to Minnesota and that the weather was OK in California, but NOT here.
We exchanged small talk, between his accent and my hearing I think I understood about a quarter of what he was saying, and I had the sense the same ratio applied to his understanding of me. I found out that he was a professor of agriculture at the University of Punjab, or a University in Punjab. Dork that I am, I told him I was very interested in India because I’ve been reading Indian authors. He’d never heard of Jhumpa Lahiri or Salman Rushdie which I guess shouldn’t have surprised me given the vastness and diversity of the sub continent, and that who knows if ag profs anywhere read much literature. I mentioned that I wanted to visit India someday and he insisted that I come to Punjab and visit him when I was there. He wrote down his name and telephone number, he seemed to be very excited about the prospect, and told me that he would show me around when I got there.
I should probably take him up on it.