It began with the request by hubby to invite a couple to dinner. Tabor was not exactly excited about this burp in her weekly plans. Thanksgiving was just around the corner and there were bedrooms to clean, meals to plan, food to buy and porches and decks to clean as well as decorations to get out and large platters to pull from the back of cupboards. Now he wants me to cook a meal for some other company before all this? For people I don't even know? But Tabor realized that this dinner was important because they were like strangers in a strange land and needed to break bread with someone.
The man had just been hired to work at the nearby small community college and was still trying to find his way. He was working with people from a different culture and people who perhaps did not have the passion for accomplishment that he did. They were people who hesitated to make change because it probably meant failure but most certainly meant more work. He was American but actually an Eastern Indian by culture and who for the past six years worked in the Marshall Islands. He was tall, thin, and handsome and had not lost his country's accent. His parents still lived in India although his father had worked in France for a while. This dinner guest, in spite of or due to his sophisticated upbringing, was still seen as an outsider by the local community.
His wife, shorter and pretty, was Laotian but had lived in America since she was eight. She had stayed and worked in Boston during this time and was raising their two twin boys with the help of her parents. She had worked her way up in a company providing support to database software and hardware for the big stock brokers and finance companies. She had held on to this job when the company was laying off others. The couple had sacrificed big time by being apart for months at a time over many years, knowing that in his field of science jobs were hard to come by. Now he had been rewarded with a job stateside where he was much closer to his wife and sons. He was so happy to be back in America but somewhat unhappy in this stagnant job. He was smart and energetic. They were strangers in this rural conservative community and we could be the connection they needed to maintain their sanity.
(Tabor asked hubby about dietary restrictions, having at least some idea of international eating issues. Since there were none, she proceeded to put together a salmon with a Thai curry sauce with chopped kaffir lime from her tree. To this was added a tumeric rice dish, stir fried swiss chard in bacon fat with chopped bacon and to cool the tongue a cucumber salad with mint/basil/sour cream dressing. For dessert, just to really make the meal over the top crazy, she made brownies served with vanilla ice cream. Fortunately, everyone had cast iron stomachs and she got compliments.)
The dreaded entertainment event went very well. The couple were completely charming and well educated. Once they realized that we saw that the world was composed of a whole group of people with common interests and common goals and that we did not view the world as privileged citizens from the top of Mount U.S. we had wonderful conversations in our attempt to solve the world's problems. We shared stories of travels and travel interruptions and travel surprises. Relieved that there were no talks of sports, potty training, holiday shopping, it was like the old dinner parties.
A discussion of the movie, Slumdog Millionaire, brought to light the concept that maybe this slum was actually kept in place by the government of India because it produced many cheap products and provided cheap but intellectual labor. It was like a company town kept in place by government bureaucracy according to our guest. The young man mentioned working with a technician from India who helped set up the cell phone network in the Marshall Islands. When our dinner guest had returned to India with this man on a trip he found that his home was in the slum. A one and half story shed built of tin where 8 people slept. Tabor's guest was from a higher level in India and even he was surprised at this contrast in the man's skills and where he lived. Tabor's guest was not like some of the haughty Brahmin's she had met on her travels and she realized she must watch her prejudices. His life in the U.S. had made him very democratic.
By the end of the evening Tabor wanted more time to explore Laos and its customs with the wife. She had forgotten to ask for pictures of the twins. She knew that the young man would be moving on to other jobs when the opportunity came, but maybe she would have the chance to entertain this young couple again in the future. They were a nice reminder of what Thanksgiving was all about.