Thursday, September 2, 2004


Dinner was at a Moroccan restaurant that night. We were standing by the doorway looking at the posted menu thinking that it might be a good place. When it started raining, we walked right in.

Just moments before, they had not been open (not yet 7pm, you know). But now they were, and now it was raining quite hard outside, and now we weren't in any mood to wander the streets in search of something else.

The food was good, and the helpings were extremely generous. In the end, Trudy and Ben took their desert crepes with us after we were done...

But that's not the story I wanted to tell. I wanted to talk about a conversation I had with the waitress.

After we were finished eating, I asked her where she was from. I wouldn't normally do that, but I overheard her saying something to a couple on the other side of the room that made me think that she was not from France. I wondered if it was Morocco.

Vous venez d'ou? I asked.

Maroc, she answered immediately. The tone of her voice echoed with pride. (Either that or she was shocked that I would ask such a question of a brown-skinned waitress in a Moroccan restaurant.) Then she asked the same question of me.

Des Etats Unis, I said, and I elaborated on my heritage.

I explained how my father is from India and my mother from the United States. She nodded. And when I pointed to my arm and began to talk about my color..., her face assumed a sort of more-power-to-you expression before I finished.

My color makes me ... how do you say in French ... ambiguous?

She had a puzzled look on her face. Evidently ambiguous has no cognate in French. She didn't understand what I was trying to say. So I looked for a different way to make my point.

On ne sait pas d'ou je viens [*], I said.

She smiled and shook her head in disagreement. She had guessed India she said, from the very beginning. It was actually very easy to tell where I am from.

So much for ambiguity.

[*] People can't tell where I'm from.   [back]

Trip to France - Day 11

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