Please Grab Some Coriander Leaves

Oh, you meant Cilantro!

A.J. Bryant


My wife Sasmita is an Indian immigrant. She came to the US on a K-1 fiancee visa on July 14, 2012. We married a few weeks later. Though we’re both brown-skinned Indians, our backgrounds could not be more different.

In our marriage infancy, Sasmita stayed in our apartment in Washington, D.C, while I commuted to my office. Being new to the US, she explored the city and our neighborhood while I worked.

She had never seen so many black people. Or girls on bikes, even wearing skirts. The list goes on and on. I could write a book about all the new and different things she saw and experienced.

I returned home and most days she had a new adventure to tell me about. It was great fun, learning about US culture and everyday life through her eyes.

I did the majority of the grocery shopping. There was a grocery store a few blocks from our apartment. And every few weeks we’d travel about half an hour away to an Indian grocery store. That way she could pick up items she was familiar with.

On multiple occasions, as I was leaving for the store, she’d ask me to buy coriander leaves.

I’d trek to the store, search for coriander leaves, never find them and come back empty-handed. Surely I thought to myself, one of these grocery stores must have coriander leaves.

I went to other supermarkets. I scanned the fruits and vegetable sections, looking at everything in that segment of the store. No coriander leaves.

Being a guy, I never once thought to ASK someone who worked in the store for coriander leaves. That avenue to find them was out of the question.

One day Sasmita decided to join me at the grocery store. We walked in and were buying baby carrots. Suddenly she exclaimed ‘coriander leaves.’

Stunned, I looked as beelined straight to the cilantro, picked a bunch, and walked over to show me.

‘What do you mean none of the grocery stores have coriander leaves,’ she demanded. Speaking in a half-annoyed, half-teasing tone. I stammered, ‘but you’re holding cilantro.’ She laughed.



A.J. Bryant

Adopted from Kerala. I write about adoption, my intercultural marriage, contemporary India and more. Prawns are my love language.