Everyone laughs in the same language

laughing-mattersI’ve written so much about Intercultural Relationships and the serious issues that can come with them, but one theme I always had in all of them was how important it was to laugh.

Then I realized that I hadn’t written one blog on the absolute hilarity that can come in an Intercultural Relationship (or any relationship for that matter). And let me tell you, I’ve had moments since being in my relationship with Bear that I’ve seriously been afraid that I wouldn’t be able to keep my promise to my mother to “always have on clean underwear” (you know….just in case).

So, in the spirit of that (and probably because I’m missing him quite a lot today), I’ve decided to write a few of our most favorite “HA HA” moments down for all to enjoy.

Please note that all names and places have been changed to protect the innocent (namely me) and that at no time was I involved in any of these mishaps (lie lie lie) and I always, almost always, (ok ok ok) most of the time, understand what it is Bear is saying to me. So, with that said, let’s get the party started!!!

When Bear and I first became friends, I had been a vegetarian for almost a year and was just learning how to cook Indian food. Most of my friends at the time were all staying in the same apartment (Bear included) and one night it was decided that I should try my hand in cooking for everyone. I heard a rumor from someone that Bear didn’t eat certain foods and thinking that it was going to be something normal like no eggplant (yuck), I went and asked him. Now, remember this, Bear is a very strict vegetarian but he will occasionally eat eggs. Also, all I was really good at cooking at that point was spaghetti with a family recipe sauce, home made coleslaw, home made raita, rice and Chole.

So I confidently strolled over to Bear’s desk, thinking that I was really going to wow them that night with one of those and asked Bear, “So man, what’s this I hear about you having issues with certain food??? Mmm?? MMM?”

He smiled and grinned and laughed (which is what he generally did when he talked to me back then) and then asked me if I had a pen and paper. I didn’t, so he pulled out a tablet and begin to write. And write. And write some more. When he was done, I had a list of food he would not eat that was…well, in a word, long.

The following fell in Bear’s NO-NO list:

1. Tomato

2. Yogurt

3. Eggplant

4. Mushrooms

5. Mayo

6. Ketchup

7. Some Cheeses

At least I got ONE right.

I sat staring at the list, realizing that that knocked off ALL the food that I was good at cooking, looked at him and asked if him he realized that he is a vegetarian and that all that stuff greatly reduced what he could be eating. He smiled, nodded and said he still wasn’t eating any of that stuff. I then told him I felt sorry for his future wife. He nodded and said he did too. Little did I know.

I wound up making pasta with white sauce made from crème instead of yogurt and adding buttered steamed yellow squash and zucchini along with garlic bread. He liked the garlic bread quite a lot. He ate the pasta, after scraping off some of the sauce and forking all the zucchini over to the side. When I noticed this and asked him about it he said that I should add buttered steamed zucchini to his list of NO-NO’s. ARGH!

As our relationship progressed, it became easier to cook for him but more and more difficult to find places for us to go out to eat, especially whenever we were going in a group of people. Being the minority (vegetarians) at a work place where most of the guys walked around once a month pounding their chests and saying things like “Ugh! Me cook MEAT over BIG fire today!” (not kidding, we had a BBQ once a month and they would seriously do that), our choices were few and far between. Bear’s were even less. He soon learned the joy of American Salad and the many different ways you can request for it to be prepared and then not be at all surprised when they brought it out exactly as you asked for it ….. but with some grilled chicken on top.

One of the issues that Gorigirl.com raised was Intercultural Communication. It’s not always just about how you say something, or what you mean behind it, it can also be that sometimes the accent just gets in the way. I have a slightly southern accent due to being raised in the south and because I generally pick up accents as I go along. There’s also some northern nose twang in there along with a bit of ‘valley girl’ and just a splash of Indian Pune inflection on some words. So, needless to say, my accent is fairly odd to most people here in sunny SoCal. Bear has a lovely, gorgeous voice that is truly musical to listen to…but his accent is sometimes very thick. Needless to say, Bear and I had a hard time understanding each other in the beginning of our close friendship. There was a lot of “I’m sorry?” and “Excuse me?” and “What?” (or “Kya??” if he was really excited and forgot I nooo speaky de Hindi).

Later in our relationship, when both of us finally got what the other was saying, it had become a standing rule that whenever one or the either of us said something that the other didn’t particularly want to hear, we would use one of our three favorite sayings from when we didn’t understand what the other was saying:

  • Kya hua? (What happened?)
  • What are you talking? Speak English! (Spoken with a total look of innocence by Bear)
  • Who are you?

Bear uses these most, which has forced me to ask something in explicit detail to the point that I’m almost purple from lack of air. I also have to get everything out before he can laugh and find a chink in my language fortress to come back with something completely twisting what I just said. For example, our ritual Friday night conversation usually went a little like this (keep in mind; he doesn’t drive here, so I would have to go and pick him).

Me: “What time do you want me to come tomorrow morning?”

Him: “What time do you want to come?”

Me: “I can come anytime, you are the one who has to go to the office first, and so what time is better for you?”

Him: “I can go to the office anytime, it depends what time you think you can wake up and come over here.”

Me: “Ok, how about 9am?”

Him: “Oh MAAAN, 9am? So late? You don’t want to see me earlier? Oh maaaan!”

Me: “I didn’t SAY that, I said I could come at 9am, but I can come at 6am if you think you can be ready by then. HA HA HA.”

Him: “Who are you? What are you talking? Speak English” (he just broke etiquette here by using two in one…big cheating brat)

Me: “You heard me you big stinky brat.”

Him: “Oh man….6am? You’ll be stinky then.”

Me: “WHAT do you mean I will be stinky then?”

Him: “Becaaaaauuuuuse, you run late, and when you run late you cut corners, so you will wake up late and then not take a shower to come here by 6am. Which MEEAAANS that you will be stinky.”

Me. “Bear. Take your pick, either I’m early and stinky or late and not stinky. You know the drill man.”

Him: “Oh man! So this means you would rather be late and will probably still be stinky because you just admitted that you run late and cut corners, so that means you will be late coming at 9am too. This also means that you will be stinky at both times. Oh MAN! Poooor me!”

ARGH!

Bear and I are also fairly competitive people. We both love sports and games. The only problem is that he is better at all of them than I am. In fact, the only thing I seem to be better than him at is that I am more competitive than he is. So when he wins (and he always does) it drives me nuts. At first, I used to try the old “Don’t you want to let me win sometimes sweetheart?” to which he would reply “No” and then smile innocently.

I used to play Badminton fairly well once upon a time but Bear is still reigning champion back home. He’s taught me some great things that I never knew and helped me remember some things that I had forgotten. However, he still is able to stand almost rock solid still in the slightly off center side of his court, slightly flicking his wrist and sending me careening all over on my side of the court. Ducking, diving, running, stopping, jumping, you name it and he makes me do it. All without him breaking a sweat and barely moving. Well, except for that jaunty little head waggle, smirky grin and “Neener Neener” that he does from his side whenever I give him a nasty look.

We will NOT discuss how badly he beats me at Chess. I honestly do not understand why he continues to play with me. It cannot be any where close to a challenge for him. All I can think of is that he likes to talk and talk and talk while I’m trying to think, this way he gets what he wants when I get frustrated and tell him “Gappa BAS Bear!!!!” and then make what I think of as being a SPECTACULAR move that is SURE to surprise him. And he check mates me in two moves. ARGH!

I also undertook the honor of teaching him “American” games. To me this included my all time two favorites. Gin Rummy and Punch Puggy. Turns out Gin Rummy is not necessarily restricted to the US, is played by many different names in many places and Bear is also the all time champion of this. I taught him one hand. He beat me the other 10.

I was left with Punch Buggy, for which I knew I was the reigning queen (well, I was also Captain of my Chinese Red Light Fire Drill team back in high school…when we all had hatchbacks!!! Beat THAT if you think you can!). So I taught him the rules, nailed him for a few of the Punch Buggies (GREEN Punch Buggy!! No punch me baaaaaaaaaack!) and then sit back and reveled in my “I finally beat Bear” glory.

For all of five minutes.

By the end of the day, we had new rules, no actual punching and you were only allowed to count the buggies that the OTHER person had at least the ability to see. I was forced to create these rules because 1) He wears big gold rings on his punching hand and 2) He never has to drive so therefore is free to pick out those damn buggies in parking garages and opposite roads. After Christmas, when I thought it would be cute to buy him a toy Punch Buggy that was bright red, with real working doors and wheels that rolled when you “wound it up”, I had to add another rule. No “fake” punch buggies allowed. He had started, whenever I got him for a punch buggy, to just say “RED!” When I finally asked him what he was talking about, there was no red punch buggy around, he would simply say “Sure there is, it’s in my room, you bought it for me for Christmas”. ARGH!

Actually, I am better than he is at skiing and horseback riding…but so far have only been able to show off to him once for the skiing and he wasn’t properly attired (no gloves). So I can’t really say that. Most likely, given the chance (and proper gear) he probably would still kick my butt at skiing….eventually.

As I said, we both truly love and enjoy sports. I’m learning about cricket (sort of) and he’s learning about football. He’s doing a better job at learning my sport though, I must say. I was raised as a Daddy’s girl and therefore honor my father by rooting for and sticking by our football team even though they suck big time. Being raised in Virginia, we have a deep love for the Redskins and whoa betide anyone (Maryland…you know who you are) that tries to take our totally sucking team away. Also, anyone who roots for or wears Dallas Cowboy paraphernalia is subject to ridicule and is considered a mortal enemy.

Being a good fiancé and wanting Bear and my father to be best friends…I explained all of this to Bear. That he can root for anyone he wants, but if the Redskins are playing you must not root for the other team. Also, if the Cowboys are playing, you must stick your tongue out at them, say something rude about their namby pamby jerseys and then turn the channel. You are not allowed to watch a game of the Cowboys unless they are playing the Redskins and the Redskins are kicking their butts. IF the impossible and unrealistic occurs and the Cowboys beat the Redskins, then you must erase all memory of that game, pretend it didn’t occur and should anyone ask you about the game, you must reply with….

“Who are you? What are you talking? Speak English!”

Truly, I taught him all of this. I was a good and loyal fiancé. However, being who he is and considering how much he enjoys baiting me and picking on me, why would I be so surprised at him when football season came around. He turned on a Cowboy game, refused to follow the rules, hid the remote from me so I couldn’t turn it and then did the worst thing of all…he ROOTED for them! OH THE HORROR!!! Oh the shame!!!

I called my father immediately and told him what Bear was doing. My father laughed his ass off and said he liked that boy A LOT!!!! Apparently Bear and Dad were best friends already simply because they shared the commonality of enjoying baiting me and picking on me.

But it’s all in good clean (or stinky…take your pick) fun.

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3 thoughts on “Everyone laughs in the same language

  1. First of all congratulations on your successful marriage with your Indian husband.
    My name is Vishal and this is my first time visiting your blog. Before I get super creepy, let me give you a little background of me. I immigrated to the US from India about five years ago with my family on a green card based visa and just became a naturalized citizen of the US in August 2009. I went to the University of Maryland, College Park (Go Terps!) as a Mechanical Engineering major (How Indian of me!) and graduated about a week ago.

    So how did I come across your blog? Well,actually I was searching the web for the website of Indian Customs Office to get some info. as my parents are visiting India in February and somehow google redirected me to one of your blog posts (I don’t know how but I am glad it did). I started reading your blog posts and enjoyed all them as they were both uber-interesting and funny. Usually I am the last person who reads or follows anyone’s blog posts or even likes the phenomenon called Blogging but I just couldn’t stop after reading the post about you moving to India. I like your writing style as it’s very relaxing but funny at the same time. I wish I could write like you at least 10 % of the times!

    I really liked this post since it involves sports. Before I used to think American Football was a game where big guys wearing pads hit each other for no reason, but as time passed I learned to appreciate the complexity of the game. Just like Aditya there, I am also a Colts fan and I think I too have a little boy crush on Peyton Manning. My friends think that I like Colts since there the name of their franchise starts with ‘India’. LOL

    Anyways I just wanted to say I will be a regular reader of your blog even though I am not someone who is in a interracial marriages like so many of your other followers. I just reading about India and Indians from someone else’ perspective!

    You Rock!!!

    PS: I am not a Redskins fan but I do support them when they are playing the Dallas Cowgirls!!!

    • Bwahahahahahaha COWGIRLS! Nice!

      First of all, thank you Vishal and WELCOME to my currently known as the ghost town Blog. 🙂 I know I’ve been absent lately, but mainly it’s because I’ve either been sick with some mysterious Indian cold/flu/stomach ailment or I’ve been running around trying to get myself registered here in India (another BWAHAHAHAHA).

      I am going to be posting a lot here in the coming weeks so I look forward to your comments and input! I’m always happy to learn that I’ve converted another non-blog reader to the ‘oh so loverly’ world of addiction to reading other peoples stuff. 😀 heheheehe Seriously, I think it’s wonderful when many people from different walks/experiences of life, come together to learn and grow from one another.

      Also, congratulations on Graduation!!!!!!!!!!!!! Go Testudo!!! That is AWESOME! So so so so happy for you! Matriculation is highly underrated as being highly overrated. I even ask my hubby to give me some of his work to do from home as I’m getting so bored (aka I don’t know how to drive/speak the language here yet so am forced to sit and read twitters from silly people or play Farmville on Facebook :D).

      I look forward to seeing you around here and hope all goes well with getting the fam back over here to India!!!!!

      Take care and once again, welcome! ~Gori

  2. Booo Redskins booo!

    😉

    I was raised a loyal 49ers fan… yeah, it’s been a rough decade or so. Living here in the DC region ALL we get on TV is Redskins games, which, really? Not that fun to watch. Aditya adopted the Colts as his home team, since he first came to the US to go to school in Indiana. I think he has a little boy crush on Peyton.

    Seriously, though, great post. Aditya’s been here long enough that he’s learned most American cultural things, but I taught him punch buggy the other day for the first time. Heh. Heh heh.

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