Why Can’t You Be More Like Bhaskar?

by Pam

Bhaskar and Pamela
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Meet my new BFF, Bhaskar! Our daily conversations go something like this:

P:    I hear your brother was in town yesterday.
B:    Oh, only about 20 kilometers.

P:    How old are your daughters?
B:    Yes Miss, there is an ATM just up here.

To call Bashkar my friend is a bit of a stretch, as he’s being paid to hang out with me. He is however, the only person I speak to on any given day, aside from my husband, which hardly counts; his head is deeply drowning in work right now as he adjusts to his own relocation challenges. So for now, these surreal exchanges are what pass for friendship.

In San Francisco, my life was busy, too busy; filled with people and conversations and 60 or 70 hours a week of work. On Friday nights, Maggie and I would do our radio show, Charm School. I’d then spend the weekend as Pixie, gallivanting around the city committing acts of smart-assery. In India I am the white lady. The white lady who is chauffeured around in an air-conditioned car with tinted windows.  I am the expat housewife who is doing nothing but spending money to put together a house that we’ll live in for this next year.

Bhaskar’s official job title is “Driver,” but basically he is my nanny. His unofficial duties include, but are not limited to; bringing me jasmine flowers for my hair each day, deciphering Indian menus, walking me around temples and parks, escorting me through crowded markets, showing me the best place to buy linens, following me around the store while I shop for linens, helping me pick out linens, carry the linens to the counter for me, and checking the bill for the linens to make sure I’m not being cheated. And then, I’m embarrassed to admit, carrying my new linens to the car, opening and closing the door for me, then driving me home. This is his job and he is good at it, he also appears to enjoy it.

I’ve never been doted on in my life. I am the helper bee, the mama, the teacher, the go-to person. I have no frame of reference for this type of relationship. I’m not sure whether to feel guilty or grateful for these niceties. I do know I’m gearing up to throw a spectacular temper tantrum the next time Phil doesn’t buy me a pony.

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3 Responses to “Why Can’t You Be More Like Bhaskar?”

  1. Eric says:

    Interesting memories. My parents spent two years in Egypt (before I was born, alas…) and have talked often about the man who was provided as their servant while they were there.

    He never spoke English with them. My parents instead learned enough Arabic to get through the basics. But, oddly, when the next couple moved in after my parents left — he spoke English fluently. Hmmm…

    They speak often of how it was a surreal experience to have somebody just waiting around to clean floors, buy groceries, etc., etc.

  2. Phil says:

    Eric,

    أنّ حقّا غريب.

    Phil :)

  3. Michelle Korn says:

    Feel guilty or enjoy it!? Hmmm! Considering all of the other challenges you are facing on this adventure – no water, no clothes, no DEET, no English – enjoy the treatment. I am enjoying your blog and perfectly happy to be visiting India via my mac. Stay safe and sane – cousin Michelle