Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Mexican Hindu

Just for the record, I'm 3/4 Mexican, 1/4 Portuguese. Why do I mention this? Because, for the bulk of my adult life, people assume that I'm Indian. Indian as in the subcontinent, not Indian as in I'm a part owner of a casino.

It's not that big a deal; when I lived in the dorms at UCLA, I was known as "Gandhi". Whenever I travel, if I run into an Indian family, I always get "the look"; they stare at me, trying to guess what caste I am, and whether or not I'm truly a member of the tribe.

I've had some fun with this. I have a slight gift for mimicry; I can produce a pretty passable Indian accent, along with French and Russian. So, whenever I'm asked if I'm Indian, I respond in a 7-11 quality Indian accent, and talk about how I moved here from Calcutta, because I think white women are really hot. That's usually good for a laugh.

I'm married to a woman who is half-Hispanic, but looks white as a ghost. So, we get interesting looks from time to time. Especially from Indian people, who stare at the striking white redhead walking with me thru the airport.

I have two stories that illustrate how much fun this is;

First was when I was a baby PD in South Gate. I was doing misdemeanors, which means you have a ton of clients every day. So, most of my clients were in custody, and I'd interview them in the big lockup cell in the back. I was done with my interviews and was back in the courtroom taking notes. An interpreter came up to me and, while laughing hysterically, told me that one of my clients wanted to talk to me again. I asked what was so funny about that. He said "The guy told me to get his lawyer. I asked him which lawyer to get. The guy said, 'I don't know his name; it's the Indian guy with glasses. El Hindu' "

So the interpreter said, "'El Hindu'. That's you, Camacho!" and kept laughing.

"El Hindu"; Spanish for "The Hindu". To this day, some colleagues still call me that.

The second story takes place in Hong Kong. My then girlfriend, and now wife, Dolores, and I were taking our first vacation together. We had started in Singapore and were now in Hong Kong for a few days before flying home. We went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Kowloon for lunch. After lunch, I had to go to the gift shop to get a shirt. Dolores and I go to the gift shop, and there are two Indian girls working the counter. Dolores and I were the only customers in the place, and while we were checking out the shirts, the girls were talking to each other in Hindi, Urdu, or some other language. And they were pointing at me. They weren't even trying to hide it. To my amusement, I watched them from the corner of my eye, and it was obvious what they were saying. "Where's he from? What's he doing with the white woman? Is he from the States? He speaks English! Is he rich?", etc.

We picked out our shirts, and I made to pay for them with a credit card. They both took the card, saw the last name "Camacho", and were shocked. They were talking, still, and this time it was "Camacho; that's not an Indian name. What's the deal with this?" I signed the receipt, took my card and bag, and as I walked out, I said "Thank you and come again" in an Indian accent. As I walked down the street, Dolores walked behind me and was silent. I turned around, and saw that she was furious. I started laughing, which is never a good thing to do when the woman you're with is pissed at you. I said, with all the innocence I could muster, "What's the matter?"

"You know..."
"No, really, I don't. Tell me"
"You know those girls were checking you out"
"Really, I hadn't noticed." I now admit, 12 years after the fact, that THIS was a blatant lie.
"Bullshit, you didn't notice!"

I admitted that I had, and pointed out their puzzlement that I wasn't Indian. To this day, Dolores doesn't find this story as funny as I do.....

So, why do I tell the story? Because today I had an Indian client come in with his father. It was a minor matter, and easily handled. But I got "the look" from Dad. He made a point to ask my name, and I could see the surprise when I said "Camacho".

It never ends.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Spaniards finally decided to bring in hordes of Hindus, as well as lesser numbers of Koreans, and Chinese. History records that Hindu slaves were brought in by the tens of thousands. This is a matter of record. It cannot be disproved.Gene is author of the book, What Strange Mystery Unites the Turkish Nations, India, Catholicism, and Mexico?