3 Degrees of Seperation… (or less)

I’ve discussed this once before in Nepali Ho? But I think it warrants another re-telling.

Nepal is a small place, with an even smaller number of large population centers—Kathmandu, Chitwan (Narayangarh/Bharatpur), Pokhara, Biratnagar—if you meet someone in the US, particularly someone in university or a graduate of university, chances are they are from one of these four places, or very close to one (or at least attended high school in one of these places).  Thus it seems like everyone knows everyone else, that they can find a connection in three people or less.

On Sunday we had R, S and N, AS over for a waffle brunch. The joke is that R has such a huge family she is related to everyone in Kathmandu, and N just simply knows everyone period. It was the first time that N and R sat down to compare notes, and I’m sure that if they really wanted to they probably could have gone back and forth identifying random acquaintances that they both knew… all day. Since the conversation was mostly in Nepali, I wasn’t really listening, but then I heard a name that even I knew! N asked if R knew “Jiwan,” R said “oh yeah, Jiwan, of course, ___’s brother” and I was able to jump in and add, “Me too! It’s D’s brother-in-law… his cousin-sister’s husband!” How many degrees of separation is that?

When I see Nepali people meet for the first time, I feel like there is a back and forth, back and forth, like a greeting ritual, to find that connection—who do you know?—it’s almost always inevitably found.

On Saturday night R, S, P and I went out to dinner in a nearby city to meet up with some older American friends of S and P’s from when they lived in Maine. The friends were in town for a dentists conference, and since it was a rare opportunity to touch base, we went to a fancier place than usual. S choose a swanky Indian/French fusion restaurant, with a contemporary South Asian style. When we walked through the door R noted, “This place must be owned by Nepalis, look at the masks on the wall…”

We sat down, met the friends, and started what would be a long conversation-filled dinner. Our waitress wasn’t South Asian, but at one point a South Asian man brought us a round of soup. A few minutes after he left P leaned in and whispered, “I know you are going to find this funny… but, I think the guy who brought the soup… was my cousin.”

“What?” I asked.

“Yeah, you know that wedding we went to a few months ago. I think it’s the bride’s brother.”

A little while later when I got up to use the restroom I tracked down the waitress and asked her who the Nepali waiter was, she said there were a few and gave me their names. When I got back I asked P if any of the names sounded familiar. Sure enough, it was the guy. When the food came P said, “Namaste bhai” and his distant cousin was surprised until the recognition clicked.

It’s a small small world. So small in fact that I can’t help but wonder how many people out there stumbled upon this blog and have figured out who we (C and P) really are (I’ve already discovered one… right Abhi?). Even if you don’t know who we are specifically, I’m sure if we sat down and went back and forth a few times, we would eventually find acquaintances in common!

Perhaps in 3 people or less…

2 responses to “3 Degrees of Seperation… (or less)

  1. AD aka tundal45 sometimes posts links to his blog posts on facebook. I found this world of C and P while clicking around in his blog after reading one of his posts, if I remember correctly. Now I’ve subscribed to this blog and immensely enjoy reading it :).

  2. I don’t think it’s that different among the urban upper class/upper-middle class Indians, really, at least in the North & the East. Aditya went to a posh private school in Delhi, so he can play connect the dots to most of the high movers in the North, and we know a bunch of people who went to all the posh high schools in Calcutta, which means we’re about three or four connections away from most of urban elite Bengalis.

    South India, on the other hand, remains a land shrouded in mystery to me. Haven’t been and don’t have many connections in.

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