America When India Dies
"You know why COVID is killing everybody in India?" the guy said to me, taking his attention off the ballgame for a minute, turning toward me on his bar stool.
I don't like baseball, so I was willing to talk.
"Why?" I said.
"Because all the Indian doctors are over here," he said.
On the screen, a player who grew up shoeless in the Dominican Republic hit a double.
I go to bars for these one-sentence moments of incorrect clarity. I have whisky at home, but the quotes are better in the bars.
While India isn't generally a subject of conversation in the saloons of America, India has helped me my whole life.
In 1964, a year when it snowed a lot, my bartender father was coming home with skinny tips because people weren't going out as much. Instead of one pork chop apiece, and a couple extra, there was one pork chop apiece and all the white bread I wanted. I complained to my mother.
"There are kids in India who'd love to eat like you eat," my mother said.
What we knew about India was that kids were hungry and everyone knew how to charm a snake. We learned the hungry part from our mothers. The snake charming part we got from cartoons. Hell, the snakes were probably hungry in India. If you're hungry enough, you'll dance to any tune.