[nani]: she got bitten loads on her ankles (pointing to my ankles)
[the unexpected neighbour]: … you should get a pedicure (to me)
[me]: … ha… yeah… I guess that’s not really my vibe (or roughly, in Punjabi)
[the unexpected neighbour]: (makes shocked face that looks simultaneously aghast and deeply hurt)
[me]: (tries to laugh…)
[the unexpected neighbour]: (struggles to understand what has happened here, comes to only reasonable conclusion) oh! are you married?
[me/nani/massi in chorus]: no!
[the unexpected neighbour]: oh… (continues to look bewildered but also now vindicated) then you really should get a pedicure (turns away from me and continues with the conversation).
[me]: (??!)

~a few minutes pass~

[the unexpected neighbour]: so are you studying?
[me]: (expectant) no, I’ve just finished studying so that’s why I came here.
[the unexpected neighbour]: so what will you do next?
[me]: (sensing my own doom) hmm, you know (realising activism and art and spoken word gigs here and there won’t make the cut) we’ll see, I’ll apply for jobs and stuff…
[the unexpected neighbour]: (vindicated, turns to my nani) you should get her married, she’s about 18 isn’t she?
[nani]: (shares a look with me that says LOL YOU’RE 23) hmm, inshaAllah.
[me]: (i could escape, no one is even looking at me)
[the unexpected neighbour]: no, trust me, you should.
[me]: (internally: i’d rather get a pedicure i guess)

i’m not sure what vibe i’m giving off but another neighbour came round in the evening and kept saying how “simple” i am, and how she told her daughters no need to get changed to see me cos i’m so “simple” – and the way she said it seemed simultaneously like i was being lauded and mocked… i think more the latter, disguised as the former. i guess my “pindhi” style and unpedicured feet are a real sight…


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