Steve and Jose
July 2 - August 12, 2011
A Narrative: A "husband-and-husband act" at the
Kannur, Kerala, Railroad Station snack bar, and the
expressionless look on audiences faces.
By Rev Steve Parelli,
Written July 26, 2011
Kannur, Kerala, Railroad Station
“Twenty rubies only,” said the vendor loud enough for all to hear as he set the two cans of diet coke on the
counter before me. “Twenty rubies only,” he repeated loudly, again stressing the word “only” and pitching
his bargain price to as wide an audience as possible. It put a smile on my face. He reminded me of myself,
an enthusiast about his business. He was also putting smiles on the faces of other customers who, for
whatever reasons, were drawn in to this every-day business transaction that was occurring between the
Indian vender and the white, male American tourist.
The small snack store, situated on a busy corner at the entrance to the platform area of the Kannur, Kerala,
railroad station, consisted of two open counter spaces adjoining each other at a 90 degree angle.
Customers at one counter could look across diagonally to customers at the second counter while the
vender – with a particular flare for entertaining – easily serviced both counters. The size of the store was
not much bigger than the smaller newsstands found in the New York City subway.
By now, all eyes were on me the foreigner who was purchasing two cans of soft drink. The vender was
enjoying the notoriety as much as I had become use to onlookers in Kerala.
“Where are you from?” asked the vender, like a ring master under the big top, again loud enough to attract
additional onlookers, which he did.
“The USA,” I said as I reached in my wallet for a 50 bill.
“Is this your friend?” he asked, pointing to Jose who was standing a bit behind me, the audience still
attentive to every word.
Now it was my turn to step into the lead role. I would, in good humor, upstage the ring master. Up until now,
I had been his support. Now, little did he know it, his role would be to support me and my lines.
“He’s my husband,” I said. Everyone understood and everyone laughed – not a polite laugh, but a real
gusto laugh, the routine response we get in India when introducing ourselves as “husband and husband.”
It is hard to get a laugh when traveling abroad. What is funny in one culture, does not always translate as
funny in another culture. Perhaps because the English words are clearly understood, or that the “joke” is
uncomplicated, or that the foreigner is attempting to be humorous – for whatever reason, our introduction of
one another as “husband and husband” always generates hardy laughter.
So, naturally, I was quick to affirm my statement. “Yes, husband and husband,” I said.
Jose smiled and chimed in. The lines we’ve repeated throughout Kerala spilled from our lips as if in chorus,
Jose and me speaking alternately:
“Yes, married in 2008 in California,” said Jose.
“We have six states in America that have legalized same-sex marriages,” said I.
“We’ve been together for thirteen years,” said Jose without missing a beat.
“You know about marrying a man and a man, or a woman and woman?” I asked the vender directly.
“Yes,” he replied, “I hear the news. I know.”
As Jose and I were speaking, I looked towards the vender when I spoke, and then towards Jose, who stood
behind me, when he spoke, giving me the opportunity to actually look about at the people and the
expressions on their faces. Our audience was fixated on every word we spoke as well as on the image of
our persons – interracial, American, two married men. (Out of the corner of my eye I caught Jose pitching
to the crowd as much as to the vender.)
The onlookers were all men in their 30s and 40s – middle age. How would I describe their uniform
expression? It was a look of disbelief; or a stunned look; not a look of surprise; I suppose their look was a
cross between stunned and awe – almost an expressionless expression as if they went pale with disbelief;
an expressionless look that said they were still taking in the data provided and processing it; as if their ears
had betrayed them and the mind was catching up; a does-not-compute-yet-did-in-fact-compute look.
Almost like school children looking steadfastly at their teacher to explain patiently the predicament the
teacher had posed; as if a new math equation had been presented on the blackboard, one which seemed
to invalidate all previous math equations learned.
In this sea of expressionless expressions, we were, as we spoke our declarative sentences, assuring them
with kind smiles and clear wide eyes that the equation – “husband and husband” – was in fact the case and
does, in this new interactive, Internet word, exist – right here and now before their very eyes.
With that, Jose and I smiled at each other, looked out at our disbelieving bystanders, and walked off (the
stage) into the milieu of people on the railroad station platform – with our two cans of diet coke for “twenty
|By Steve Parelli
Written with pen and paper, Tuesday evening, July 26, 2011, at the Kannur, Kerala, Railroad Station while waiting for our train
to Kottayam to arrive. Transposed to my laptop, making minor changes in the script, Saturday morning, August 5, 2011,
Royal Goan Beach Club, Baga, Goa.
|A Narrative: A "husband-and-husband act" at the Kannur, Kerala, railroad
station snack bar, and the expressionless look on the "audience's" faces.
|This web page was created on Saturday, August 4, 2011, at Royal Goan Beach Club, Baga, Goa.
This web page was published on August 9, 2011, from Royal Goan Beach Club, Baga, Goa.
Visits to this web page since August 9, 2011:
Steve & Jose's Other Sheep
Asia 2011 Ministry
India, Singapore and Nepal
Table of Index
India (Index Page)
July 2 - August 12, 2011
- Young Lay Leaders Conference
- Day 2 - Jose presents
psychological dynamics of
church bias towards
- Day 3 - Future projects
Singapore (Index Page)
August 13 -16, 2011
- Steve & Jose present "Is There
Such a Thing as 'Ex-gay'?"
- Steve & Jose present a
Powerpoint on their India 2011
Nepal (Index Page)
August 17 - September 1, 2011
- "Putting a Face on
Homosexuality" - Meeting with
Nepal Evaluation Report: