Young parents Mina and Raj Das, of New Brunswick, NJ, travel in India with their three children. Their tour guide is Mr. Kapasi, also employed as an “interpreter of maladies” for Gujarati patients who speak a language different from their doctor. Mrs. Das takes an interest in Mr. Kapasi, and vice versa. Mrs. Das uses Mr. Kapasi to express her frustration with her husband and her life, while Mr. Kapasi imagines she actually cares for him and that they will keep in touch after the Das family leaves India.
The first line of this story is “At the tea stall Mr. and Mrs. Das bickered about who should take Tina to the toilet.” Since neither Mr. or Mrs. Das is physically disabled, this says terrible things about these two as parents. Who could argue about such a task while a child waits to relieve him or herself? What better way to make a child feel like an unwanted nuisance?
In this story, American children of Indian immigrants visit India and act like “ugly American” tourists. They treat “the help” condescendingly. They set bad examples for their children. Have you witnessed behavior like this – in parents, adults, employees, employers? Ever been on either end of the equation? What happened?