A concerned father threw a fit when he heard that his son was served spicy Indian food at a friend’s home. Minoo Shah plays devil’s advocate and speaks for the son’s family.
While the rest of the world reels in exasperation about lockdowns, elections, corruption and the heat, one Dad of the Year in the US is having panic attacks and is on the verge of calling in the military because his nine-year-old was fed Indian food. I painstakingly write verbatim his blog that none other than Chef Padma Lakshmi has taken on with a simple: ‘Sorry…. what?’
My son, “Chris,” is 9. A few weeks ago, we decided to open our bubble to include the family of “Neil,” Chris’s best friend. Both of Neil’s parents are doctors, so this seemed like a safe decision. Both parents were born and raised in India. We let Chris have dinner at their place the other night since both boys were having agreat time together. When we came to pick up Chris, Neil’s mom recounted to me how much chicken curry and lentils and vegetables Chris ate. I couldn’t believe that they served my son spicy curries without even calling to ask us if that would be OK! I was taken aback and gently mentioned that spicy foods can be hard on small tummies, but it didn’t seem to register. Thankfully Chris didn’t get sick. My wife says to drop it because any conversation will look racial in nature and to only let the boys play at our place. Please help.
I can almost see cudgels and kadchhis in hand, Indians all over the world defending their spice containers and grandma’s recipe books. I, as an Indian, see the nationalistic pride of fellow Indians come to the forefront when their palate is insulted. What was even more surprising was how the non-Indians all the way from the Ivory Coast to Louisiana defended the curry chicken by compartmentalising ‘Chris’s’ Dad (the Dad’s name is being kept secret in the Pentagon files, in case the ‘sena’ decides to seek vengeance) in the category of mayonnaise is spicy crowd.
So, I decided to be a devil’s advocate and speak for Chris’s family. Imagine the parents being fed a ‘single story*’ and being raised in an ethnocentric environment. Your imagination cannot be stretched that far – I understand. In which case, let us parse Chris’s Dad’s verbalised thought process explaining why in the first place he allowed his son to visit the home of his best friend Neil
‘…even though his (Neil’s) parents were born and raised in India’.
At this juncture, I was tempted to call up the INS (Immigration and Nationalisation Services of USA) – ‘how dare you’?
‘…both of Neil’s parents are doctors, so this seemed like a safe decision.’
Because Doctors are rich, drive acceptable cars, go on luxury vacations and thus the socio-economic parallels would be maintained. Hmm, I see the elitist, privileged perspective.
‘…I couldn’t believe that they served my son spicy curries without even calling to ask us if that would be OK!’
Here, I feel for him because all he was asking for was to be included. You see, most of such families who have chosen a nucleic lifestyle do feel isolated and are craving to be included. Can we then not nod our heads in sympathy and go around to their house armed with loud music while banging plates?
‘…. thankfully, Chris didn’t get sick….!
At this point, I was overwhelmed with emotion – such a caring dad even though he was clueless about supporting his child’s mental health, his focus was on the physical façade, much like he viewed life.
‘…my wife says to drop it because any conversation will look racial in nature.’
This was the last nail in the coffin of absolutes. I wanted to go hug them, pat them on their backs and say: ‘There, there – it is not your fault that you have to worry about racism, this is the essence of your being. Your view of the world is colored in white or else. Your food choices are limited to meat, potatoes, and all things bland. You circumvent within life at ease until the same life throws you in a tizzy where you are surrounded by flavors, colours, and cultures – oh, so foreign. If it makes you feel better, I will get you one of those white conical hats with three holes and a robe to go with it. Henceforth, please wear it at all times.So, no Indian, Hispanic or the lesser known races to you would not dare trespass your closed mind and narrow perspective on life.
* TED Talk – The danger of a single story, by Ngozi Adichie, Chimamanda