Her Story: A Woman From India

The environment around us is an incredible part of our stories. Sometimes we might not even notice its influence. Our environment is the people, the weather, the condition of our home, and all the little things that we can’t always control.

Seeing environment come into play during my German class while Martin and I are in Europe has been profound.

I don’t know her whole story, but I do know this…

a woman from india

A man with rich brown skin walked into my class an hour after we had begun. Everyone groaned and laughed at once. “You’re late again,” they chided in German. He went to the the back to grab a seat. A teensy girl shooed him away. Only the day before, she’d told me I wasn’t welcome in that seat, either. She was saving it for I-didn’t-catch-what-her-name-was. He shrugged. The next visible empty seat was next to me, and there he sat.

We opened our books to page 26. He didn’t have a book, so I slid mine between us.

His short hair reminded me of black leather, and the glimmer in his eyes held something very Disney-esque. An hour later, the teacher paired us together for a grammar project. The first words out of his lips were, “I’m from India.” “USA,” I answered back. He spoke in English; I answered in German.

Have you ever seen Big Bang Theory? My partner was Rajesh without the great teeth. He was equal parts hysterical and absurd. Nothing I could say could convince him that the German word in front of us was “love letter”, not “love letter trouble”. It was in his head, and that was that.

I told him in German. I told him in English. Nope. I was still wrong!

I tried showing in my dictionary. Nope. I think he reluctantly gave in when the teacher came to check on our progress, as everyone else was wrapping up the project and we were still on question one.

His ability to make the German grammar on our worksheet flawless was incredible. We studied a little drawing of a man holding flowers. He told me all you need to do is buy flowers and your girl problems are gone. You don’t need to talk to them, and you don’t need to spend time with them. Just buy flowers. (That’s totally Rajesh, right?!)

I laughed then.

He came back to class for about two days. He was always late; then he never returned. At first I was a little sad because I liked the challenge of working with him. Disagreeing with someone is a great test of your grammar skills and foreign language confidence.

Then I started to notice something fascinating, and that was how the Indian woman in my class began to change when he wasn’t at our table any longer.