Why do Gujju Behns visit Atlantic City of all places?|
During our recent, first trip to Atlantic City from Bensalem (a Philadelphia suburb) organized by a Desi travel agent, we were astonished to find several elderly Gujarati women in our bus.
For a second, we thought we were in the wrong bus.
Gosh, whatever prompted all these elderly Gujju ladies to join our trek to the gambling den of vice when they could have spent their time chanting slokas at the nearby Bharatiya Temple in Montogomeryville or the Swaminarayan Mandir in Cherry Hill.
Had the lure of Sin City's glitz taken in our Gujju senior citizens too or was it the hope of making a quick buck? Nah. Nah.
In our view, there are two primary reasons why Gujju Behns go to Atlantic City: Because it's cheap and to beat boredom.
Although the return bus ticket to Atlantic City cost about $25 per person, everyone got a lunch coupon for $8 and gambling vouchers for $13, which can be redeemed for cash. So, the real cost for a day's outing comes down to about $4, a very modest amount.
Boredom makes men and women explore strange things, particularly when thrown into a strange environment.
If a move to a different culture is hard enough for the educated middle class, those with the so-called cosmopolitan world views, it must be much harder for these Gujju Behns transported to America and cast into a totally alien social milieu. Their limited education and grasp of English, and different dress habits make Gujju Behns seem like fishes out of water in mainstream America. Assimilation is just out of the question for most of them.
With their husbands busy making money in check cashing outlets, Dunkin Donuts, Subways, liquor stores and other small businesses, and grownup children leading their own lives, there's little to occupy these Gujju Behns.
Boredom is their constant companion. After all, how many times can you go the Vraj temple or Bharatiya Temple and chant Jai Sri Krishna?
For some of our friendly Gujju behns, this was not their first trip to Atlantic City. In fact, our neighbor told us she'd been to Atlantic City several times. Some of the women in our bus were the same ones we'd encountered on an earlier bus darshan to a bunch of Hindu Temples in New York.
So, visiting any place in the company of other Gujju Behns is preferable to spending yet another dreary day in their homes, assembling in the local park, or chanting slokas in praise of the Lord. Even, a visit to the Sin City of the East Coast.