Your English is Impeccable

I worked in fine dining & hospitality from age 16-24 in various contexts. The worst shift you could take was Saturday morning brunch: very low traffic, very high probability of a headache from the night before. The silver lining was the variable reward in conversations and Jalapeno cornbread.

A couple of salt of the earth women walked in one morning. After a bit of introductory chitter they erupted in “Your English is impeccable! You are beautiful! Where are you from? You have to meet our daughters.” I was taken by their candor but also literally taken at the time.

One of my mom’s favorite phrases is “Ahm-ra kee grahm-ehr theke?”…which in Bengali literally means “Are we from the sticks?”…semantically adjusted…“We are not hicks”. She would cast this spell at me as a kid when I needed to clean my room. I could always tell she wanted a better life for us.

Sometime in 2007, a first love would ask me to teach her a few Bengali words. She was an easy target, so I started reading the ingredients of a cereal box slowly, backward because that’s how things are pronounced. I didn’t tell her until the next day, but you could also say that she knew.

A birds-eye view of multiple perspectives was never really a choice. I was always explaining some intersection of contradictions. We were poor, but I was drowning in opportunity, help and I felt wealthy. That I was an immigrant but not really because I was 1 when we got here. That my dad couldn’t work. What do your parents do?

No conversation had an easy out.


Now read this

Agent of Happiness

Like the founder of Cirque du Soleil, my prime directive is to make myself and others happy. I am an “Agent of Happiness” with a blatant disregard for convention. I have nodded off at conventions before and don’t plan to attend another... Continue →