So like I said in my previous post, I sat on the kitchen floor eating cookies for breakfast while pondering the concept of an Indian family, when my friend Tushar and his cousin's family told us a true story about a girl named Jing Xie from China.
Tushar: "Two years ago I arrived here very late at night in Mumbai, I got out of the gates and I was waiting for my luggage, and there was this girl also waiting for her bag. We spoke a little and she told me her name is Jing Xie from some city in China. Her accent was so thick she was barely comprehensible, but I did understand, mainly because over the years I know so many fresh-off-the-boat Chinese like you [referring to me]"
Me: "Yeah, whatever." [I smirked]
Tushar: "So anyway, this girl, she has got to be the most naive person on earth."
Alok [Tushar's cousin's adult second son]: "OMG yeah, unbelievably naive."
Tushar: "Apparently Jing Xie met some Indian boy through the internet, which prompted her to watch two Bollywood movies. She then concluded that India is a magical place and that she should visit it at once."
Me: "A bit nuts, but go on..."
Tushar: "So, Jing Xie arrived with no information about India whatsoever, she was to meet the Indian boy who was then suppose to travel with her. She didn't know much about the boy either from the looks of it."
[Lots of laughter from my host family when they thought of Jing Xie]
Tushar: "But the boy never showed. She paced back and forth, asking everyone at the exit gate if he was the boy, but no one understood her English, which was extremely broken. I was the only one who gets her.
Then of course she started crying, and if you know Indians...they love a good drama. Soon fifty people surrounded her, and I was by this time trying to fix the situation.
No one really tried to do anything for her, but they all had their opinions on what should be done to the boy, "Someone should call the boy's parents and tell them what a bad son they have."
I was in fact really tired, but I could not leave her there, so finally I suggested that she should come with me to my cousin's home for the night."
Alok: "Yes yes. This was like 3 a.m. Imagine, we were all asleep and we got a phone call from Tushar saying something about a Chinese girl crying. We hung up and forgot about it.
[Lots of laughter]
And then Tushar indeed showed up with this Chinese girl at our apartment. She was dressed in the most bizarre outfit...she was wearing a little schoolgirl uniform."
Tushar: "Oh no, not before she insisted first she and I must go to the Mumbai police station to let them know she was with me, a total stranger. All of a sudden she decided to be untrusting.
She was stubborn as hell, she wouldn't believe that I am a nice guy and only trying to help. Finally we went to the police stand, and she insisted that the police record both our names and her situation.
The policeman said to her, "But Miss, we don't really care where you go."
And then she said in her ridiculously thick accent, "This man [Tushar], can is, or not, a killer."
The policeman was very confused, "Is he trying to kill you?"
She answered, "I not sure."
In the end the policeman thought it best to just write down our names on a piece of paper, immediately after which they threw away in front of our faces. But she was appeased and she came to the apartment and stayed the night."
Alok: "The next morning we tried to find her Indian boy from the only phone number she kept. It turns out this boy actually lived more than 100 km away, he entrusted a friend to pick her up at the airport but that friend bailed.
Of course we got tough on this boy. We threatened to tell his parents, and in India that is a huge deal."
Tushar: "He is actually a nice boy, just as naive as Jing Xie. He was really scared when we threatened him, he said he was on his way to our apartment."
Alok: "It was so ridiculous. When the boy arrived, our entire family [all seven + Tushar] sat down like a panel and interrogated him as if this was a match making.
We found out where he worked, how many brothers and sisters he had, his past time interests. We did all this in straight faces...he was quite frightened.
[Lots and lots of laughter]
Then, we came up with the most brilliant plan. We got his parents' number and we called them, and we made up a story about how we had a daughter and we were interested in matching her with their son. We talked to his parents quite a bit, as is the tradition in such matters."
Me: "Wait a minute, what's the point of calling his parents?"
Alok: "We were not going to release Jing Xie to him just like that right? What if he is a psycho killer. He needs to know we mean business and that at any time we could call his parents and tell them the truth."
Me: "Interesting...by the way, how old is Jing Xie?"
Tushar: "I found out she was 37, no way to tell from her face though. The Indian boy was 22."
Alok: "Finally we let them go off and tour the city, we took Jing Xie around a little too. She really enjoyed the sights.
We made sure this Indian boy behaved though, we made him call us everyday he was with her to check in, or else we'd call his parents."
Tushar: "I tell you, this girl left India very happy. She thought it is a magical place."
[Laughter, laughter, laughter]
I laughed very hard like everyone else in the kitchen, thus marked the first memorable event of my trip. And as for the rest of it? well, it was every bit as bizarre and endearing as this story.