June 27, 2006

So little of the world

Some years ago, Amma and I spent a spring weekend with a Mennonite family in rural Pennsylvania. They took us to Sunday Mass at their church, where the pastor noticed the obvious visitors and made a special welcoming mention of us in his sermon. Later, he came over with a big smile, greeted us and chatted warmly.

Then, transparently genuine, he asked: "And when are you joining us?"

Didn't much bother us. But our hostess, a lady of 55 or so who had herself never been outside that part of Pennsylvania, was visibly flustered. She later apologized. "He's seen so little of the world!" she said.

That Sunday, I've always felt, Amma and I ran into a little essence of America.


km said...

Heh. I have known colleagues who've lived in Northern Jersey all their life and have never been into Manhattan.

If there's one "positive" about this war, it is that America is now little more aware of the rest of the world. They've finally stopped pronouncing "Iraq" as "EYE-Rack".

Anonymous said...

Got you on my SharpReader finally. Glad to see you are thinking of joining rural churches in Penn. Cheers. Omar

Anonymous said...

sorry, I seem to miss your point. You can probably comment on the lady but if you use a wider brush it need not be just America, methinks.

Anonymous said...

Dilip: Aren't Mennonites in Lancester county really Amish? The kind who still don't use electricity, no phones in house, no buttons, no mustache but beards etc.. And from what I know, they are pretty close community so am bit surprised of them inviting you to join them.

Dilip D'Souza said...

km, not moved from Northern NJ into Manhattan?! Amazing.

b, this was a comment on the lady! That's the essence of America I meant -- that a woman so tied to that community was herself so enlightened.

Actually, I'm beginning to think I wrote this wrong: is that the sense you guys got, that I was referring to the priest's words as the essence of America? Not at all! This is one of my more cherished American memories, precisely for what this lady said. Perhaps I need to be writing more clearly!

anonymous 1143: The Amish are also in that area, but they are different from the Mennonites. The Mennonites also live spartan lives (at least the ones we met), but quite different from the Amish.

Omar, you have to tell me what a SharpReader is and how I've got onto it. When next here in Bom?

Anonymous said...


Lovely post. Yes, you are right, that woman who had never stepped out of her community summed up this country pretty well.