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Thursday, December 04, 2008


She who laughs loudest...

I find Indian people to be not unfriendly. If an opportunity is presented they'll ask where you are from and then launch into a conversation about cricket or whatever else they deem relevant. Generally, I'd say, Indian women are a little more shy than the men.

From time to time in the dining room of the youth hostel I'd noticed a couple of women, probably in their late 30s, who were usually accompanied by a tribe of kids. On my last full day there, I came down for breakfast and the two women were at a table without the kids. They smiled 'hello'. Breakfast wasn't ready. They were waiting too so I struck up a conversation with them.

I'm coming to learn that Indians don't always look like Indians. If you plonked these two someone in Thailand they'd probably be accepted as Thais—at least until they tried to speak the language. They come from Nagaland, one of the states in India's north-east close to the Burmese border. They told me that their ancestors had come from Mongolia. Their kids go to boarding school in Delhi. This week was a holiday so rather than bring the kids home, the two mums had come to Delhi to spend a week with them at the youth hostel. The kids were a little bored with the hostel's breakfasts so this morning the mums had come alone.

We continued to chat after breakfast arrived and I asked about their home state. 'The people are mostly Christians,' one said. It turns out that the two are sisters-in-law and one of the husbands is a pastor. Asians often assume that if one is a Westerner then one is also Christian. They are usually surprised when I tell them this is not necessarily the case.

Over breakfast we continued to chat about this and that—pleasant conversation. They both spoke good English. When we had finished one of them said, 'You realise it is my duty to tell you about the Lord Jesus Christ?'

'What do you think you can tell me? I was raised in a Christian family, went to Sunday School every week as a child and four of my siblings continue to practise Christianity.'

Generally I am tolerant of religious beliefs of others. I take a live-and-let-live attitude. But when someone starts trying to convert me, I figure they're fair game. In my younger days I had a lot of fun debating with the Jehovah's Witnesses who came knocking on my door. I was polite and respectful to my new friends but I had no qualms about explaining what I considered to be some of the shortcomings of their religion.

The one who thought it was her duty to convert me laughed out loud at times about some of my claims. I wonder, was she laughing at me or was it a nervous laugh. Anyway, we parted as friends.

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