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All set ,now I can start my story .
Harking back to the days when my father had been transferred to the Island nation of Mauritius .We kids were naturally delighted and excited .Our Mother on the other hand, was quite uneasy .This being our first foreign travel and her knowledge of the English language was very limited .
In Mauritius ,we had a huge house on the corner of a busy road hence there were very few neighbors in contrast to our Indian home where we knew everyone in the vicinity .
School had not started ,so i was playing alone in the garden when I was startled to hear a sudden shout from behind me .I gulped and turned around to find a huge pair of scissors coming at me .I ducked .A few seconds later a straw hatted -head bobbed up and then followed a brown face with twinkling eyes .He mumbled something in creole ,the local parlance and then gestured for me to move aside .he was trimming the hedge and wanted me out of harm’s way .
Thus started our friendship over the green hedge , exchanges in sign language punctuated with laughter !
Gradually we came to know , through my Father ,that there’s was a family of four ,the mother was a teacher , the father stayed at home and their children studied in college .
All of us had started settling in our new lifestyle ,except for Mother .She had a large house and three over active children to take care of and a part time maid who only understood sign language .Her visits to the local market were no short of torture She did not even know the names of the local fruits and vegetables ,leave aside how to cook them .
And then one fine Sunday , Father dropped a bombshell upon her .”Our neighbors have invited us to dinner tonight ,”said Father .”What kind of chit-chat do you expect me to do with them ?What will I wear and ….and you know I can’t even look at meat .How will I sit with them,”Mother bristled .
“Don’t you fret , we will be with you ,I’ll take care of everything ,”Father assured her .
At sharp eight o’clock ,we reached their home.Mr. X opened the door and shook hands with Father and kissed our cheeks .He was joined by Mrs. X .She had a slender figure and short hair .Mrs. X joined her palms and said ,”Namaaste”.
She then ushered us into the small but tastefully done drawing room ,where to our astonishment pictures of Mahatma Gandhi and Sathya Sai Baba hung .Mrs. X explained that they were all devotees and fans of Sri Sathya Sai Baba , an Indian Guru and Gandhiji.
Drinks were offered and politely declined by my sulking Mother.Soon it was announced that dinner was ready .My Mother gave a sidelong glance to my Father , looking like a lamb going to the slaughterhouse.
It was a sit down dinner and mother bit her lip as the first dish was served .
It was …. Dal-chawal (Indian rice and lentils dish) ,of course the Mauritians called it “Dhol -rice”.Things went quite smoothly after that as Mrs.X being a thoughtful hostess had cooked only vegetarian fare.She confided that she wanted her elder daughter Jaya to go to India for higher studies and she was so happy to have Indians as her neighbours .She praised Mother’s saree and Mother promised to get her one from India for sure .
Once back home , Mother chirped ,”Such nice people , more Indian than Indians .The world is such a small place !”