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.
"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".
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.