Thursday, October 27, 2011

Going Out With Friends

A few times over the last couple of months we have went out with one of hubby's friends. I'm having some mixed thoughts and feelings and figured it was high time I poll the experts here (yes you) and see what you all think.

This guy has been his friend since childhood and he got married a couple months before hubby and I got married. There used to be three of them and they always went out together but one of them isn't married yet and so he chickens out on these trips. Can't blame a bachelor for not wanting to follow around a couple of girls who shop lol. Anyway, back to the friend and his wife, Sia.

The first time we went out I was pretty excited. She wasn't the first of his friends wives we had went out with but I was told she spoke English. I admit I was skeptical because the last girl he told me spoke English didn't and after the meeting  we found out she was pregnant so we didn't get to go out with them anymore. Still friends, but she definitely has more important things to do right now as she had the baby earlier this month.

The first meeting with Sia went okay. We mostly shopped around at the mall and I know she had some trouble understanding me but she didn't do a lot of speaking English. I tried speaking to her both in Punjabi and English with very limited results. I figure with my deep Southern US accent she had trouble understanding me. Hubby and his friend had left us seated at the table when we ate and left us shopping on our own. We managed just fine and I thought we had fun. I did pick up on the fact she is really shy because she even seem reluctant to speak to the salesmen in the store and I did the western thing and bypassed him to help her pick out her suit lol. I had picked up on her tastes in designs pretty quick and since that's how we shop in the US I had no problem going through the racks for her. The salesmen in these stores are fairly familiar with me lol and they know I'm going to do my own thing and they still get their sale so they don't care. Overall, I thought the shopping trip went pretty well and we both got new suits.

We all went to dinner afterwards and everyone ate but barely anyone spoke to me. They were all having a time speaking Punjabi and I didn't understand it all. Sia talked to her husband most which is completely normal but I most sat quietly listening and chiming in when I could. Hubby's friend - who speaks no English did make some effort to speak to me a few times. Dinner was pretty good but I really wanted to talk more with everyone. I inquired of hubby after coming home if she really spoke English and he told me yes and that even her mother had picked on her via phone during that trip out because she was too shy to speak to me.

Second time we went out shopping again and this time Sia spoke to me less than the first outing. I was starting to get the idea she didn't really know English. It was clear she didn't understand me but this time I had a sore throat and I know I was hard to understand but she didn't seem to be trying. She just smiled and said yes when I spoke to her. I do the same thing when I don't understand someone's Punjabi. It's a great technique because they think you understand even when you don't.

This time when we went out Sia only answered me yes once and the rest of the time she didn't speak to me at all. At dinner I got really sad because pretty much no one spoke to me. Hubby was talking mostly to his friend and they expected Sia and I were talking but she only talked to her husband. I probably didn't say more than 10 words, including my order.

After going home I asked hubby why his friend always calls us to go out and he said it's because his wife doesn't know anyone here either and that they don't get to go out much and he can't take her out like he wants to because of his work hours. Sia is really sweet and I don't mind going out, that's for sure. But what do you guys think? Is she shy or does she just not speak English?


  1. Maybe she knows English, but not enough to have a flowing conversation? That's always possible. I understand a lot of Spanish and can speak quite a bit of it. But when a fluent Spanish speaker talks to me in full on Spanish, I freeze up. One because they usually talk too fast. And two because I get self-conscious about how well I can actually speak. So maybe she's shy with it?

  2. Thanks for your input! I hadn't thought of it that way but I know Rohit and I have been talking for almost 4 years now and he still gets nervous sometimes. It was too funny because the first time he had to speak to me in English he hung up the phone on me 3 times after saying only "Hello Kristy." Lol. I'm thinking I should go back and reread my journal from those days and remind myself how nervous he was.

  3. She could be shy! I know punjabis are particularly shy about speaking in english and it is a big deal. I am a punjabi and I had a hard time to start speaking in punjabi :D I now speak only because I worked for so long at these s/w giants, otherwise, I may have not spoken as well...

    #_# Chintan Gupta

  4. You're right, it's worth it. We've already progressed to arm holding and dragging each other towards jewerly counters and such so now we just need to get some better conversation. It was a little relieving to know she didn't understand my Punjabi much either so let's hope this has something to do with my accent and her shyness. :D

  5. Hmm...I'm not sure about her family. I know she has some very traditional values but they still sent her off to college and got her a masters degree. Her marriage is also a love marriage and wasn't arranged and they let her marry a completely uneducated man (not even 10th). Her mom (supposedly) got after her on the phone about wasting her education by not trying to talk to me more lol. I'm hoping it's just a confidence issue because I can remedy that. Nothing like a few good jokes that she can't resist to build up some courage.

  6. You're probably right. Now that you mention it I've begun to realize living in Punjab has strengthened my German and Spanish speaking skills considerably lol. I was kind of shy with them before but now I know those two (somewhat) and no one else does so I use them to rid myself of beggars, strange men and to impress friends lol. After all, not many Americans know 4 languages and they think I'm so unique lol. I'm going to keep working on Sia because she's fun to shop with. Sooner or later I'm hoping she'll come around. Maybe I just worry too much but other than not talking much we're hitting it off well.

  7. Thank you! I'm glad you like my blog. And hello to your mummy! It's always nice to hear success stories because this is a hard combination lol. All the traditions of India and the non-traditions of the west.

  8. I think she's in her mid 20's. She has a masters but I forget what it's in and she's not from Ludhiana. She doesn't work and is very typical Indian wifey (not as an insult lol, she's the type who fawns over every request her husband makes - even if she would be against it...for example she is strict veg and he made her eat chicken and on our first outing he had her drinking beer even though I tried to stick up for her). I've been asking her about her life but there is one area I missed that you made me think of so I shall try that next time. According to Rohit that is mostly what she talks about - complaining about her husband. I just usually try not to do that because it becomes a vicious cycle and no one benefits from it.

  9. Maybe she's just shy, since it wasn't only you she didn't really speak to, or isn't that confident speaking English. Perhaps its a bit of both. In that kind of situation I always try and be really friendly and don't talk about complicated things haha - if she still only answers you 'yes' and sticks with her husband without talking to anyone else then maybe that's just the way she is. Worth a try though :) 

  10. I think it might be a mix of her being shy and  maybe not fully understanding English, or lacking the confidence to speak.
    Do you know that girl's background? If she comes from a more traditional family she might be typically reluctant to talk too, which in this case would be a cultural shyness.

  11. P.s your blog is the best one about India ive read. my mum reads it too,did i tell you that my mums gori? A trailblazer for all gori/desi couples everywhere!

  12. tricky one bhabiji, a few questions...1. How old is Sia
    2.where is she from?
    3.Do you know anything of her background or schooling?

    I'm asking this because as you probably know in cities in India absolutely tons of young women speak english, most schools are at least "English Medium". I think maybe Sia is shy, at least a little. Do you think she thinks of you as very cosmipolitan,and is perhaps shy to speak as she doesnt have the experiences that you do? Does she work? I know you are a very understanding person,but its frustrating when trying to have a conversation is like pulling teeth! I can only suggest the usual stuff like talking about her own family,asking about parents siblings etc to get the ball rolling. then perhaps a wee gossip about husbands,usually works!