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  • Writer's pictureBlaine Hoppenrath

Family Dinner

Jamil’s family in Udaipur was one of the most welcoming families that I have met.  He met Krishna (the founder of Reality Tours, the tour company I am with) a while back and their relationship led Jamil welcoming complete strangers to enjoy meal in his home with his family.  We biked to their house after touring the City of Lakes, which was an adventure in and of itself.  Udaipur is beautiful the city is nestled amount a serious of lakes with several palaces that have stunning views of the hills around. It is sort of like Austin, TX and Texas Hill Country just with a handful of palaces.

We got to Jamil’s house as the sun was setting and his whole family was there to welcome us.  I was extremely nervous about the language barrier.  I have terrible hearing and can barely understand people in English, much less a very broken English. But the fact that his family is willing to make a true and genuine effort to speak in English is more than I can say, as I have yet to master a Hindi word.  Anyway, it made me nervous, and this dinner was no exception.

As we got there, however, no one really cared as much as I did that we didn’t speak the same language.  Low and behold, there are a lot of ways to communicate, talking with hands, showing people pictures of my family and my home, more pointing at things.  I also found out that dancing is a very good way to share an experience.  Even when you cannot dance. Well, to clarify, I can dance but to what caliber is to be determined. The young girls in the family wanted me to dance, and no matter how many times I refused, the persisted until I gave in.  Finally, after some (read: much) reluctance, I did, and there is video to prove it (it will never leave my phone, but it’s there).  Now, let be clear, my dancing was terrible. Like, no one should ever be subject to my dancing, it’s awful. But that simply didn’t matter.

The girls genuinely did not care.  We danced mostly to their music, a little to mine (the only song that could come to my mind to dance to was T-Swift’s “Shake it Off”).  And we simply had a good time. It was exhausting me, but it was worth it.

As dinner started I pulled out my camera to snap a few pictures of the setting and food, when the oldest son caught a glimpse of my camera. I could see in his eye that he really wanted to test it out, it was written all over his face. So I did something that I never do, I turned over my camera to a complete stranger.  This is something that I never do this.  Ever.  I don’t even trust my mother with my camera. But they let me into their home, so why not?  The children, really young adults, spent the better part of a half hour taking photographs of each other and of us.  It was fun to watch them look at each other through the lens of a camera.  Not only the person taking the picture, but the one of whom the photo was being taken.

We all want to portray ourselves to the best of our ability.  They were no exception.  We all want to capture our friends, family, and home in the best circumstances.  They were no exception.  When I frame a photograph it’s because I see something unique and interesting and good. And they did the same.  They are probably some of my favorite pictures of the whole entire trip. 

Before I feel asleep (jet lag is a real thing) in their house Jamil drove us back to our hotel.  But first we got a group picture, and tried to get a picture with their goat (which didn’t work out as well as I had pictured, but that’s okay).  Their hospitality and kindness was needed after being away from the States for a week with little communication to my family and friends.  It’s a dinner that will stay in my heart for years to come.

People are good and welcoming and loving. I believe that wholeheartedly. We build walls up in our head and our hearts that can limit new relationship that people who look like us and people who don’t. People who speak our language and people who don’t. I have a fear or not being able to understand others which may lead to rejection. Sometimes I build up walls because I am scared to trust new people. I know that I do it and I wish that I didn’t. I am lucky that I have met people who have lead me to build these walls down in my mind and my heart.

Our Guide, Nano, catching up with the family

With some of the family.

Nano with the pet goat who did not want to be in a group photo.

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