I t was a couple of miles to the exit at Weed, up in the mountains of California. It was also my lunch time and I was in no mood for fast food. I hoped there would be a sit down restaurant. The sign board before the exit ramp was encouraging: "Dos Amigos." With a tag line of "authentic Mexican food." I was off the freeway and to the parking lot. There was no menu posted outside. I cautiously walked in, and a Chinese looking woman in her late fifties welcomed me. How authentic can the Mexican food be if the only person there is Chinese, I worried. I paused to take a look at the menu even before I reached the table. It was Mexican food on the menu. To buy myself more time before I made any decision on to eat or skip the place, to the washroom I went. If the restroom was clean enough, I thought, I would eat in this place. It was. I sat at the table and the Chinese woman brought me chips and salsa. "A tostada please" I said. "Anything to drink other than water?" she asked in what came across as a rather strong British accent. "No, thanks" I said, now placing her to be a emigrant from Hong Kong. I was busily wolfing down the chips and salsa to quieten my growling stomach when she paused at the table. "You are from India, right? I nodded. Another waiter brought my food, and he seemed Mexican, but also Indian. I was half way done with the meal, which itself was nothing to write about, when the Chinese woman came to my table, again. "Where in India are you from?" "From the southern part. Madras. That was a long time ago. I live in Oregon now." "I am also from India. From Calcutta." I nearly fell off my chair. "No kidding!" "Really. I am an Indian, of Chinese descent. I came here fifteen years ago" she said. "Oh wow! what brought you here?" "Family immigration, you know. I am here because my brother owns this place; his wife is Mexican." "I lived in Calcutta for two months" I told her. "Near Park Avenue." I wanted to add that I have eaten a lot of Chinese food in that area, but I didn't. And, boy were they some tasty chow meins! "That was my neighborhood for forty years" the Indian-Chinese-American woman said. "What do you do in Oregon?" "I teach there, in a university." "So, you came here as a student?" "Yes. In Los Angeles." "Indians do very well here in America, no! I feel so proud" she said touching her chest. Her face was beaming now, and was considerably friendlier. We chatted a little bit more, and later when she brought the bill, I thanked her. "Am so glad you talked with me" I told her. "I am too" she said. Only in America, I suppose, will we find an "authentic" Mexican restaurant owned by Chinese from India. To quote a classic line often uttered by another immigrant, Yakov Smirnoff, "America, what a country!"

Sriram K
Los Angeles, CA
Photo Location
Eugene, OR

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