An elderly couple, my neighbours, who had been away visiting their children in the USA the past six months, have just returned to Pune and came to know about Urmeela’s passing away. They came to pay a condolence call on me this morning.
I was busy cooking for lunch and must have looked every inch the lndian version of the professional domestic cook. They must have been surprised to see me in the role but did not say anything. After the usual condolence conversation, the old man asked me why I was cooking. I joked and said that I am now the house husband and professional cook for the household. He probed further as to how long I had been cooking, how I learnt to, and whether it was after Urmeela’s passing away, etc and was quite amused when I said that it was an over rated talent and women kept men away from the kitchen to exercise control. I also pointed out that almost all chefs in hotels and restaurants were men. The old man sagely nodded and turned to his wife and said that perhaps it was time that he too entered the kitchen!
Guess what the good lady said?
In the most powerful Indian idiom, the equivalent of “Over my dead body!”
The moment she said that she knew that she should not have said that, bit her tongue and was most contrite and for the next few minutes apologized and berated herself for being so insensitive. Nothing that I could tell her would pacify her.
Anyway, they left after a while and after complimenting me for the tea that I had given them, satisfied that I was not offended.
I had been mulling over this little conversation and decided that I should post about it to convey this message. It is this. We often use commonly used phrases and idioms at the spur of the moment without considering the context and the situation. We can commit such faux pas and land up in embarrassing situations.
Has anything like this happened to you too?