Sunday, December 18, 2011

Colour Blind

One leisurely evening a couple of days back, my husband and a friend decided to stop by at KFC and have a bite to eat. The restaurant we stepped in was at Delhi’s famous Priya complex, which is throbbing with life (and people, lots of them actually) at any given point of the day, irrespective the day of the week. Priya (as it is popularly known) is also a Mecca of sorts for Delhi’s expat community, given its abundance of international cuisine restaurants, brightly lit and colourful coffee shops that serve “real” coffee (unlike the sickly sweet froth they whip up at CafĂ© Coffee Day and try and pass off as coffee), book shops, clothing stores and grocery stores that allow you to pick up baskets and help yourself to the finest of the fine “imported” items like Hellmann’s mayonnaise, real Gouda cheese from Australia and Marmite bread spread (hey its expensive, but then if you want it you’ve got to pay for it).

Coming back to KFC, the first thing I noticed when I stepped in was that there were a lot of non-Indian’s in the restaurant; one table was occupied by two black guys tucking into plates of rice and chicken, the other by a bunch of young black teenagers just being their age and the third by a group of young and giggly South East Asian girls chatting non-stop. Now what caught my eye (and eventually led to this blog post) was one of the young Asian girl’s baby -who was extremely cute, had the most adorable and chubby face, a head full of tight, little curls and was black! Now to be honest, I feel a bit ashamed to acknowledge this is writing, but I always used to think of myself as very liberal and forward thinking, but my astonishment at the skin colour of that baby versus that of its mother made me feel embarrassed at being so shallow and capricious.

I kept sneaking stares at the baby, but it’s what happened after that, stayed with me all this while. As the Asian girls got up to leave, one of the curious staff at the restaurant smiled at the baby and asked the young mother if the baby was hers, to which she happily replied that the little boy was her son. On their way out as they passed the table where the two black guys were sitting, both of them smiled at the young girl and asked her if the baby was hers, to which she cheerful nodded- what made me smile is how the black guys immediately took to the baby and started playing him, finally patting his cheek and saying goodbye.

What kept me thinking was the realization of how people so seemingly varied in culture, language, nationality and colour were essentially no different from each other; effortlessly connecting on something so innocent, so intrinsic and so human. The real beauty of all this eventually lies in how all these superficial disparities fade away with something as simple as a smile- because a smile speaks no language and sees no colour. 

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