Saturday, June 22, 2013

If hands say anything about us, it says I am a mestizo?

In the first of my multi-segment travel schedule to Costa Rica, in the rows adjacent to mine was a family.  A father and mother, with their adult son and daughter, and the son's girlfriend.

How do I know it was the son's girlfriend? Well, I will be damned if siblings kissed the way they did!

As soon as the flight reached the cruising altitude, the family brought out the snacks.  We are Americans, and we eat all the time. And eat a lot!

The daughter asked the father to get her backpack from the storage bin above.  The father, like all good fathers, dutifully followed up.  From the backpack, she then took out a huge bag of some kind of chips.

The girlfriend had chocolates.  The son, who was across the aisle from me, had some kind of a jerky that had a distinct, awful smell.  Soon, everything was being passed around like dishes around in a Chinese restaurant.

When the girlfriend's hands came out of nowhere, it seemed for an instant that the son had four hands.  Except for some fashionable jewelry around two fingers, all the twenty fingers looked the same.  The forearms looked the same. For the petite woman she was, the girlfriend's arms were some huge, big, man-hands!

I was reminded of the Seinfeld episode in which he dumps a woman, whom he otherwise really liked, only because of her man-hands.

I wondered what people might say about my hands.  But then I give enough and more for people to comment about.  Not merely my hands.  My strange accent. My small build. My balding head. My grey beard. ...

Won't it be fun to suddenly become invisible only to listen in on what is being said about me!  Maybe not.

All the flying soon ended.  I exited the airport at San Jose and there was nobody holding a sign with my name.  I fended off the taxi drivers who were way worse vultures than the ones in India.  One driver asked me what my last name is so that he could help me spot the sign.

He seemed trustworthy.  "K H E" I spelled it out for him.

A few seconds later he asked me "Siriran Khe?"

And then pointed me towards a guy who had just rushed in.

"Luis?" I asked him.

"Welcome to Costa Rica" he replied as we walked towards his taxi.

We started driving, and went through the usual introductory exchanges.  "I am from the United States" I told him.  From the Ecuador trip, I know better than to say "I am from America."

A few minutes into the drive from the airport, a view through the front windshield
Luis turned his eyes towards me, and away from the highway, and pointed to my forearm.  "With this color" he said in his broken English, "if you speak Spanish, ... Ticos think you are a Mestizo."

We both laughed.  The first of many that we had over the next couple of days.

And, that is one comment about my hand for which this brahmin by birth did not have to be invisible at all.  Mestizo I am.

A mural at Orosi


Narayanaswamy S. said...

Learned a new word today.
In the US, I've been taken for many diverse national and ethnic variations :)

Ramesh said...

You have a chauffeur waiting with a sign board outside the airport when you go on holiday Siriran Khe ????? Wow !!

You are no mestizo. You are a blue blooded gringo :)

Sriram Khé said...

I can imagine that, Nasy, given all the parallels in our lives ...

Ramesh, funny you should mention the gringo word here ... guess what? that is one post ... well, you will have to wait for that one--quite a few to write about before i get to that one ...

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