Friday, October 12, 2007

The deceivingly warm smile!

I was about seven months pregnant with baby girl when I was at the grocery store one evening with kutti boy in the cart and mom waiting at the cash register to finish up and leave. I was wearing a salwar khameez - a simple one. I was intently looking at the different cheese options in the refrigerated section when a slightly plump woman (non-Indian) walked towards me, complimented me on my "beauuutiful Indian outfit" and asked me "How many months?". Having been quite used to the question by then, I graciously volunteered "7 months". "Oh, nice. You know it's a boy or a girl?". "Girl, this time" I said, noticing that she was looking at kutti boy.
Our conversation continued.
She said "Oh wow, perfect family! That's great.".
"How far apart will they be?"
"Oh Wow" (again!)
"Look at his eyes, they are so beautiful"
Couldn't help but feel good - she was complimenting my son after all.
"Thank you".
"I am from the Philippines by the way. We don't have such large eyes. His eyes are so big! And he is so tall"
Tall - now I was thinking - oh wow, how nice! :) Someone thinks my son is tall! (Since I am a shorty, that always makes me feel happy).
"Back home, our kids are not so tall at this age".
"Oh really?"
"Oh yeah"...
And blah blah blah - the conversation continued - while I was getting very stressed:
a) that Kutti boy would suddenly get terribly bored that the cart was stationary and start throwing a tantrum.
b)Remember that he let go of the helium balloon I bought for him at the store which went completely out of reach even with a barge pole!
c)My mother might have taken a ride and left without me fuming in anger!

Abruptly I said to her, "I really should go, my mother is waiting for me outside".

"Oh ok, well here is my card. Remember this Indian friend who just had a baby I told you about...I will be visiting her soon. I will call you from there so you can also meet her".
I took the card from her and ran to the check out counter.

She did call me when she visited her Indian friend. Her friend was a nice person over the phone and we exchanged phone nos and agreed to meet up some day. (Hasn't happened for five months now though we live five min drive from each other).

A few weeks back, the same woman called me out of the blue. I was in the middle of feeding KB his dinner - and this calls for full concentration more than my organic chemistry final did - a few minutes of distraction over the phone and our little prince will dodge and change the equation - power will shift and he will drift out of the high chair quietly getting Daddy to free him from there.

My mother, kind as she is, gave the phone to me not understanding who on earth this person was. She asked me about the new baby and how I was doing with great enthusiasm. And I was happy that she was sweet enough to remember and call me to inquire about the baby. I told her that she should visit us one day and that I was in a hurry now and could not talk much...
"Oh, if you have just one minute, can I just talk now?"
Seeing the little kutti chathan shifting in his seat, I said with mild trepidation:
"yes, what's the matter?"
"Are you planning to go back to work soon?"
Taken aback by this sudden twist to questioning me about something so personal, I said politely, "well, not right away anyway".
"Well, would you like to earn some money while you are home taking care of the baby?".

That moment, I felt the thud of the warm and friendly gesture fall apart and a deep disappointment that I did not see through this. Yet again!!! For god's sake?! Isn't there a friendly person left on the planet who can be friendly for it's own sake? This was rather convoluted. Threading through different ethnicities and looping around the person rather convincingly. I did not want to hear it. It is not like I was looking for another friend. When someone is so warm and friendly and shows no sign of any "Amwayness" (or any other home biz for that matter) not just the first meeting but the second phone call too...And ropes in an Indian friend in this whole thing - you just expect it to be genuine. Just a friend. For the sake of having talked so much to you. For the sake of living so close by. To think this* is why she had been so friendly! I was so let down. At how naive I had been.
I told her plainly "I am busy now, you can mail me about it if you want".
"Well I can tell you in just a few minutes now, if you don't mind".
"No,I really have to go now. You can email me later, sorry".
I guess my tone gave away the fact that I was not interested one bit.
She never called.
And yet again Amway got me! (I am assuming it is Amway - but you know - Amway or some clone of it!).

P.S - I am still curious to know if the Indian woman is in the loop or if she really just wanted to get to know another Indian in the neighborhood! I really want to know!

Edited to add: Well, anyone who has been in this country now is sure to have experienced the Amway attack. Now that we know, we know how to spot them (although this one was so convoluted, it even got me!) and tell them off. I used to complain initially that Indians are the ones who don't smile warmly or say hi when we go for a walk or bump into them at stores...many non-Indians say hi or chat pleasantly. But now I am so wary of the Amwayites that I too am very skeptical if someone is friendly. There may be one or two of those who are genuine and really are new to this place and want to make new friends but sadly I am afraid to be forthcoming. That is the sad fall out from these Amway tactics.


chitra said...

Hey Noon, good one there. I can see how disgusted you are. Yes such MATLABI guys must be taught a good lesson or atleast we got to make it obvious to them sometimes. Well this is world now so got to live with it.

DotMom said...

oh no! I hate their underhanded methods. why do they have to do these tricks.

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

I was in Walmart one of those initial days of my arrival to the US. I'd get excited to see Indian folks around. And then in Walmart, this couple came up to me and BP and were being extra nice ... BP bluntly said that we were busy and needed to rush .. I found that rude. But he explained the Ammway headache to me ... and I soon became aware of these people.

Timepass said...

I have also seen such marketing practices..I guess they are so target crazy that they do everything possible to achieve the target.

Anonymous said...

Aahh! Amway .. I've had an experience almost identical to the one cantaloupes.amma describes here .. and 2 more recent ones - once at walmart which was so irritating, we wanted to throw something at the guy's head and one at barnes and noble which was a close shave ... we don't even like going to walmart anymore because they look for most bakras over there ... so irritating, i tell you!

Anonymous said...

that annoys me no end -- anyways -- glad it has not happened in ages to me. My own distant relative "offered" to visit me only if I sign up ! You have to meet for a few times before you can be sure that the gesture of friendliness is genuine and has no underlying motive ! Anyway --- nice to see u post frequently now !

mnamma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mnamma said...

Oh My God Noon! It must have been so irritating when she finally revealed her intent. You know, the same thing happened to us when M and N were a few motnhs old. There was this Indian couple at Costco who were very nice and they invited themselves over to our house. We didn't have a clue about what was coming - we really thought that they were nice and even made dinner for them. Once we got to know what their intent was - I was so irritated and angry at myself and hubby for walking into the trap. I have been very careful ever since.

Shobana said...

LOL :))) The same happened for B when at Walmart one day. The guy took our phone number, and promised to visit us that saturday. So I made pakoras and tea when they came. After eating all the goodies, the guy starts off about a home based business (and Amway it was;)). The look on our faces was just enuf to send the guy and his family out of the house (enna thalavalee all this). Waste of our evening....from then on, we never give our number out to anyone we meet at the store.

(Ok this sounds similar to ca, s, mnamma and everyone else's....)

Tharini said...

LOL Noon. I think we have all faced a few of their strategies. I have had so many instances of running into them, that I can smell them from a mile away. There was a point, where a lady approached me with teh all too look soo familiar, are u from so and so place...line, that I had to tell her in the very next line...I just want to make sure that this is not amway or home business related, because I am just not interested and am in a hurry to finish my shopping.

And there it ends. R is not like that though. He gives nos. and everything, much to my annoyance, and then sweetly tells them on the phone that we are not interested.

I am just surprised from ur account that someone from Philippines is also into this.

Trishna said...

hahha yes.. i have experienced it the hand of good old desis..BTW, me a chem grad too.. organic chem being my specialisation .

Sahithi's Mom... said...

Its either amway or quixstar..
have lost a very good friend to it...

Ikea is another place where you will find sch people

noon said...

Chitra - to live with it!

Dotmom,Timepass - Guess any tactic to meet their target (pun intended)!

CA - Yes...once smitten twice shy!

S - close shave, Bakras :) Funny!

Mnamma - Dinner!! With twins to take care of and then to find out this was their motive! I would have asked them for one free water filter to make up for the deception! :))

Shobana - Pakoras and tea! May be I need to learn their tactics! And I may continue to get invites cz I am really not Amway! :))

Tharini - R knows and he is still nice ot them?! He must be really really nice!
Seriously - never thought this woman will turn out to be the home biz type!

noon said...

Trishna, bow to thee! Orgo major!! You do accounting work now? Switched fields?

Sahithi - At IKEA it was an Indian couple with very obvious Amway tactics - so we avoided them! But yes we had the attack of the Amway ninja at IKEA too!

Aryan's Mom said...

Hi noon,

You could have directly asked that the reason behind her show off...?Funny people

Squiggles Mom said...

That is disgusting and so annoying! I could hammer someone like that.

utbtkids said...

OMG, few years back, hubby and self were in Best Buy, on Thanks Giving. A friendly Indian couple said Hi and started talking. And teh conversation was getting to where in India are you from, where do you work/live. This from totally strangers. Hubby and self had a doubt if they were Ambway (Hubby had had pretty nasty experiences with Ambway, so were were cautious.)and all along were in two minds if we must reply or walk away. Thus the akward conversation ended in five min. Later I felt very bad, what if they are not Ambway, but in reality pretty friendly people. Did we act like jerks? One never knows.

But my most quirky experience when I was pregnant was when I was 8 months pregnant with Chula, I was @ Michaels. I was happily drooling over yarn for my next baby blankie. This 30 something white woman comes to me and holds my hands and says,'I see you are pregnant. But I might have some really vital information for you. I see danger hanging over your head. Particularly from a male who lives in your house. Do come and see me, we will talk more', thrusts a visiting card in my hand and walks away. I went ballistic. All this psychic quacks, how dare they pull such stunts? If I had access to a gun, I would have shot the moron right then and there, o second thoughts.

Collection Of Stars said...

Noon, Amway is a big thing here at Bangalore too. It's extremely irritating. But yours is an extreme case - I can undertand how you must have felt.
And, am catching up on your old posts :)

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