‘They think you’re easy.’
Huh. Ok. I wish Pooja had told me that that’s what Indian men think of Anglo Saxon women before bringing me to this dayglo ballroom where there are 453 Indian men in Armani suits and one Anglo Saxon woman. That one anglo saxon woman – in case you’re wondering – that’s me.
I scan the room. There are 13 chandeliers, a band that reminds me of the wedding singer, 453 Indian men in Armani suits (or thereabouts), about 30 women in traditional Indian dress. And me (not in Indian dress. In Topshop dress).
‘Where is the bar?’ I ask Pooja.
When I ask for my drink the barman looks at me confused. I ask again. He frowns. Pooja leans forward and says ‘vodka and watermelon juice’ (when in Rome).
‘But that’s what I said.’
‘He doesn’t understand you.’
‘But I’m speaking English.’ If I annunciated any more I’d sound like the Queen. My accent is so clipped it’s practically buzzcut.
‘Yeah, not to him. Your accent is funny.’
I ponder this. If pooja wasn’t with me the only way I could get a bloody vodka would be to talk in such a way that I’d get arrested and charged with racism if I did it in the UK. Or pilloried like Jade.
With one double measure vodka down and one in my hand I feel much better about this situation. To be fair Pooj wasn’t talking about me per se when she said they thought I was easy. She was talking about the general perception of European women. But I’m feeling distinctly uneasy. Ironically.
I think momentarily about stepping onto the dance floor and doing a Pulp Fiction-esque dance. It would be really funny. Perhaps only to me though. Perhaps not to the security guards. And wouldn’t do much to dispel Indian stereotypes of European women.
In the taxi I ask Pooja to teach me some Hindi.
Meera Naam Sarah Hai
She waggles her head. I copy. She bends over double laughing.
‘What? What’s so funny?’
It looks like I’m having a fit. She gets me to practice. I waggle again. Even the driver is laughing at me in the rear view mirror.
‘So I can’t speak bloody English without having the piss taken out of me and now I can’t speak bloody Hindi either.’
I keep practising the head wiggle. We get to Leopolds. It’s a disappointment.