The Women At Subway

“Kathmandu,” I asked? That’s the extent of my Nepalese knowledge.

They’ve opened a new Subway a block from work here in Hartford! All the freestanding buildings must be gone because this one is shoehorned into the convenience store that’s already shoehorned into the Mobil station. Judging by the inventory there are a lot of stoners nearby.

The women behind the counter looked West Asian to me. They have an interesting accent–difficult to pin.

“Where are you from,” I asked?

Are you supposed to do that? I’m just inherently curious.

The answer was Nepal.

“Kathmandu,” I asked? That’s the extent of my Nepalese knowledge.

Turns out they’re from Dhulikhel. I hadn’t heard of it either. One of the women spelled it, then when I couldn’t quite understand her pronunciation of the individual letters, wrote it out.

That was enough for a Google search on my phone and the photo you see on the right. There are fewer than 20,000 people in Dhulikhel, but it’s got a Wikipedia entry!

They gave me a few more towns to search. I did when I got back to my desk.

I love this about America. We are from everywhere.

Imagine what cultural shock you must go through making the transition from Dhulikhel to Hartford. Could two places be more different?

“Why did you come to Hartford,” I asked?

Neither seemed to know.

8 thoughts on “The Women At Subway”

  1. I ask the people, who are obviously from other countries, who run the local stores here in Putnam where they’re from. Not from a discriminative point of view, but a curiosity as to where they come from. I’ve not come across a negative response from any of the people I’ve asked. I don’t care, from a biased POV, where they came from….I’m just curious as to how far they came and from where they came from. It, to me, serves as an educational experience. 😀 I love people, no matter where they’re from….and knowing where some people came from to our country satisfies a curiosity. 😀

  2. Gotta be careful sometimes with first generation folks though – I look very Indian but I was born in West Palm Beach Florida and raised in CT. So when someone asks me where I’m from it’s sort of a loaded question implying “you don’t look like you belong here.” But I get what they’re looking for and say my parents emigrated from India. A wrong follow up answer would be “hey, did you see Slumdog Millionaire?” lol

    1. Yes Josh. I have worked with a few people of South West Asian heritage born here in the states. One is reporting tonight–from DC and a graduate of Sidwell Friends.

      These women were obviously immigrants based on their accents.

  3. What’s interesting is I am asked the question by other south Asians all the time as well. Teaching assistants at my university, cab drivers in new York city, strangers at the airport. I’ve heard some very interesting stories of their journey’s to America- makes me appreciate what sometimes is taken for granted as a birthright.

  4. Geoff
    Nice guys do finish first
    It’s always nice to have a conversation with someone who is genuinely interested in who you are and what you have to say
    Sadly most people from connecticut are always in too much of a hurry to care about anything

  5. curiosity gets to me……i’m a lover of people….lifestyles….motivations. they all inspire me. i’m a slacker, by definition. but, i love to discover how and why people do what they do. i’ve had many people in my life influence my thinking, and (at times) it’s not been in a positive way…discovering how and why people do what they do is such an impression in my life……life is good, enjoy it and relish it! enough of my babbling. sorry, geoff. 😀

  6. This is awesome. And to think, I thought I was alone. I’m a “people” person and I love to ask others about their homelands, cultures,religions and ethnic foods! (That’s big for me…LOL! I love to cook.) America is truly, a melting pot and I wish more people would embrace diversity among people in this country. Not only is it a teaching/learning experience, but it can be an emotional connection as well by teaching tolerance and empathy between mankind. Never, ever have I encountered anyone who was offended by my questions. I think it was clear that I was just truly interested in learning. I suppose it is all in the “approach”.
    Awesome, awesome blog entry, Geoff.

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