Paisa Proselytization

He is dressed like Crocodile Dundee sans massive knife. He sees us maneuvering into the just vacated table in front of the Starbucks at the crowded food court.

"Punjabi?" he asks.

"Pardon?" I ask trying to be polite while nudging Virj into a chair and, at the same time, whipping out some wipes to clean the spilled Panda Express noodles from the previous occupants.

"What do you speak? Punjabi or Filipino?"

I can imagine us being mistaken for the former. If you tie Virj's hair with a handkerchief, he can easily pass for a Sikh boy. The latter however leaves me flabbergasted. How on earth do we remotely look Pinoy?

"No," I say. "We speak Bengali."

"Hold on, I think I might have that in my belt."

He fishes around in his pockets and pulls out a couple of shiny disks.

"Here, have these."

Before I can say anything more, he puts them on the table and is heading towards a Latin couple. Virj scoops up three of the coins, leaving one for me:

Proselytization by Way Of Bengali Coin in CA

"How will you spend your eternal life?"

Because he's gone, I can't tell him the irony in all of this. In the middle of a suburban California strip mall, a stranger has given me a couple of Bengali inscribed coins on Poila Baishaki.

That's the Bengali New Year.

Shubho nobo borsho (an auspicious New Year) to you too!

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- April 15, 2012 9:53 PM // Bangla , Bay Area