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culture

5 articles
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Ten Views of the Border

Observations from a divided, strange world.

"But I remember him coming in the border patrol truck every morning. Like they were bringing some famous criminal. Him getting out. Every day it was like it was his first day there. The look on his face, I mean. Creepy. I shouldn’t say that. But I mean. The teasing or bullying, I never took part in all that, but I can say, I know it sounds defensive or you know like apologizing or something for the behavior, but I don’t think it was because of his coming from the other side. That was just the excuse. It was the look on his face. I mean if he didn’t want to join in, then go play in a corner. Okay. Go play by yourself. But to just sit there at the edge of the playground and watch us all like that . . . Never a smile. It sounds like a blame-the-victim sort of, that kind of unfair sort of thing. But you didn’t see his face."

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Kite

A childhood evening in a barrio.

"Now they’re bossing all the kids around. Just because they have the nicest soccer ball in all of Cuatro de Marzo, they think they can slave-drive the other kids to make the soccer field, to carve it out from the dirt street. They think they can practically reinvent the game. The ball is pretty nice. Nobody knows exactly where they got it, but they never let it out of their sight. They take turns guarding it, sleeping with it at night. It’s the same kind the Guadalajara Chivas use, one that looks official—all red, white and blue with their coat of arms on the side."

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Red Clay

A woman travels to Mexico at the request of her married lover/boss.

"The driver has a picture of his family on the dashboard, like the one Gustavo has on his desk at work of his two little runts, his wife, all in cowboy hats or sombreros. Meera doesn’t know the difference. In the picture, his wife comes across as a woman who likes to be in charge: big boobs, square shoulders, a sturdy ass and yet apparently confident in tight jeans. Meera doesn’t know her name, doesn’t want to know it. But in her head, when she thinks of her, her name is Gustava."

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The Trinity

The rise and fall of a friendship between three Indian women.

"We were goddesses. Meena, Annie, and Nayantara. Even our names were like heroines. Meena and Annie had known each other since they were 5. I met them in seventh standard. Though we never said it aloud, we knew that three beauties had more power than two or one. Like the Hindu gods. Or all those pop groups. Like the Wilson Phillips. We liked the Wilson Phillips. We pretended to like the fat one but heart of hearts we didn’t."

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How To Date a White Guy

A set of instructions about how to handle culture clashes in modern dating.

"You’ll exchange names. His will be something like John or Jack or Jim — something with a J, something typical and boring. If he’s smart, he’ll make a joke about this. Not like your name. So beautiful. He’ll ask for its meaning. Give it to him. Land of the Canyons. Bringer of Hope. Gazelle Returning From Water. Your people have such a way with words. It’ll excite him. He’ll tell you (you were right!) he’s a writer. You’ll be impressed. He’ll say you’re prettier than anything he’d write. When he goes outside for a smoke, go with him."