Tag Archives: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

When it Comes to Food, Nepalis Know How to Throw a Party…

The title really says it all…

During the past two weeks about 50+ emails have been exchanged to plan a big dinner party for this evening. The occasion? Ten Nepali students are graduating from P’s university, and the non-graduating Nepali community is hosting a dinner in their honor and for the graduating students’ families. The party is projected to have about 50 people but one can never be certain what the final head count will be at a Nepali gathering until it happens.

Last night eight of us split into two marathon shopping trips to gather all the food, and we met at S-di and M-dai’s house to divide up the ingredients. Each non-graduating Nepali-community member was charged with bringing some dish or another to the party– P and I had to make a giant (giant!) vat of cauli aloo (cauliflower potato curry), a massive tossed salad, and of course, a giant bowl of rice (because how can you eat without rice??). Our cauli aloo used 5 large heads of cauliflower and 10 huge potatoes. We are used to cooking for big crowds, but that was quite a lot!

Cauli aloo mattar (foreground) and (pre)tossed salad (background)...

As we were dividing up the groceries last night S-di said, “I feel like we are at a wedding house” since during weddings usually there is a back and forth offering of gifts between the bride and groom’s family, and each family has to arrange trays of goodies (fruits, sweets, snacks, etc). The families spend long evenings arranging all the trays and prepping them for their unveiling.

The "wedding platter" goodies from R and S's wedding...

P and AS chopped up eight whole chickens and spiced the meat. I helped to peel about 6 bulbs of garlic while others peeled ginger and counted out onions, tomatoes, and lemons. This morning P and I were charged with running to the grocery store to pick up last minute items and deliver them to various people’s houses. It has been quite the undertaking…

It is a beautiful day in our little section of  New England, so I am happy to emerge from the kitchen, eat rice, curries, achars, and salads until I can’t move, then dance the rest of the night away.

But it certainly wouldn’t be a Nepali party without lots and lots of food…

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“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

Over the weekend I watched the classic movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” I’d heard about it before, but never watched it, and figured I’d give it a go. It was an interesting movie that I’d recommend, particularly for those who are in intercultural/interracial relationships.

The basic story of the movie, which originally debuted in 1967, was that the daughter of a white “liberal” upper-middle class California family came home from Hawaii to announce her whirlwind romance and engagement to—gasp—a man of color! The movie takes place during an afternoon when the daughter and fiancé seek the approval for their approaching nuptials from first her parents, and then, in a twist of events when they are invited for dinner as well, the African American fiancé’s parents. I think there were moments where the drama was a little over the top… I mean, it’s hard for me to believe they fell in love in “just 20 minutes” and after 10 days of being together decided they wanted to be married (this coming from the girl who has been dating the same guy for 7 years, engaged for nearly 2, and still not married… I think I’m in a different ballgame), but the rest of the movie was really good, and would have made a great cultural studies or sociology paper back in the day. It was especially interesting watching the “liberal” family struggle with their feelings about having an African-American son-in-law. As the mother said to the father in a side discussion,

She’s 23 years old, and the way she is… is just exactly the way we brought her up to be. We answered her questions. She listened to our answers. We told her it was wrong to believe that white people were somehow essentially superior to black people… or the brown or the red or the yellow ones, for that matter [oohh a bit of a cringe at that dated comment, although the sentiment is there]. That people who thought that way were wrong to think that way, sometimes hateful, usually stupid, but always wrong. That’s what we said… and when we said it, we did not add, ‘but don’t even fall in love with a colored man.’

In addition to this there were a few other great quotes in the movie that really spoke to me. In particular there was this one quote when John (the fiancé) gets into a “heated” discussion with his father who basically tells him, “After all I’ve done for you [working long hours as a mailman, making money to fund your education, etc], all I’ve given up for you, this is how you want to repay me? Marrying a white girl?” John responds:

You listen to me. You say you don’t want to tell me how to live my life. So what do you think you’ve been doing? You tell me what rights I’ve got or haven’t got, and what I owe to you for what you’ve done for me. Let me tell you something. I owe you nothing! If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you’re supposed to do! Because you brought me into this world. And from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me like I will owe my son if I ever have another. (But you don’t own me! You can’t tell me when or where I’m out of line, or try to get me to live my life according to your rules. You don’t even know what I am, Dad, you don’t know who I am. You don’t know how I feel, what I think. And if I tried to explain it the rest of your life you will never understand.) You are 30 years older than I am. You and your whole lousy generation believes the way it was for you is the way it’s got to be. And not until your whole generation has lain down and died will the dead weight of you be off our backs! You understand, you’ve got to get off my back! Dad… Dad, you’re my father. I’m your son. I love you. I always have and I always will. But you think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man.

Parentheses are mine… I love these lines…I know it is a very “un-South Asian” way to think or talk to/about ones parents, it is very individualistic and not very respectful, but I think these words are really powerful and impressive. I’ve tried to say something like this to my mom before, but I don’t think it got through, its one of the major reasons we don’t understand each other…

Spoiler alert!… don’t read further if you want to watch the movie yourself… but the third best line of the movie comes from the girl’s father in the final monologue of the film, when he comes full circle:

There’ll be 100 million people right here in this country who will be shocked and offended and appalled and the two of you will just have to ride that out, maybe every day for the rest of your lives. You could try to ignore those people, or you could feel sorry for them and for their prejudice and their bigotry and their blind hatred and stupid fears, but where necessary you’ll just have to cling tight to each other and say “screw all those people”! Anybody could make a case, a hell of a good case, against your getting married. The arguments are so obvious that nobody has to make them. But you’re two wonderful people who happened to fall in love and happened to have a pigmentation problem, and I think that now, no matter what kind of a case some bastard could make against your getting married, there would be only one thing worse, and that would be if – knowing what you two are and knowing what you two have and knowing what you two feel- you didn’t get married.

It makes me feel warm and tingly, so I figured I’d share.