Awoke and breakfasted (I’ve developed quite a taste for muesli, especially when you pull the raisins out.) And from then on, it was the laziest of days. We sat around and read for most of the morning, and then Meher, the kids, Val and I went for a little drive. First we drove to some blackberry bushes and… well, blackberried. We managed to collect quite a lot from just a couple of bushes. After this, we drove to a recreation area, for playing, swimming, etc, that Meher knew of, only to discover that it now cost $2.50 to get in, so we promptly turned around, parked, and went for a walk by a lake that was there. It was very pleasant, very cool. We drove back and spent the afternoon just lazing again, reading and listening to Paul Simon on the record player. A misunderstanding arose – Meher + Bill + family were going to a party in the evening, so assumed we would not want to come, since it would be another Indian party, so Meher cooked a meal at about 6, for our benefit. Then they discovered that we would quite like to go. So, for the second day running, we were faced with the prospect of 2 big meals in an evening. The party was a continuation of the one the night before, part of a series that had been going on for the past 3 weeks, to celebrate the wedding of a young Indian couple. There was mostly the same crowd there, and we were able to chat with various of them, especially a girl who’d studied in England. Some food was served – juice, garlic bread, very light potato patties, fruit and cream – and it was very tasty. Then we were told that dinner was served, and a giant meal was placed on the table… I could barely do it any justice at all. Val had quite a long chat with the bride, but we only found out later that her marriage had been arranged. It seems amazing to us that arranged marriages can still be going on in a place like America. We have found ourselves both very welcome yet curiously alienated from the Indian community here.
I retained, I note, the suspicion of cultural arrangements that I considered outmoded, even abusive. This was, of course, before 9/11, and the suspicion and hostility that America’s muslim community found itself subjected to. But of course, this was liberal California.