Friday, July 5, 2013

Strangers that are Good Old Men

Part #3 of the Strangers series 

Naturally, when you get mugged by a jolly old man, you have to write a blog post. You do know by now that I meet strange people. Today I was thinking about something funny on my way to buy eggs and this old man accosts me in the middle of the road. I didn't notice him coming.

"You know, you remind me so much of my daughter."

His statement was so loud in my ears, I was startled at first. And then there he was, right in front of me, wearing a cab driver's uniform with a bald pate and white sproutings on his chin. He looked quite nice for an old cab driver even though his shirt was missing a couple of buttons. I smiled, pleased, and probably mumbled something and he repeated himself again. And then goes today is her birthday! Oh goodie, it wasn't completely random, I think. It was his daughter's birthday, he was far away and he was thinking of her. He'd have probably said the same thing to anyone. It stung me a little bit too, like I wasn't special anymore. What a silly thought!

I knew he was far away from home because he already told me half his life history. Like in two seconds. He was Daniel something from Goa. He had this nice un-cabdriver-like English to prove it. So anyways the whole story comes down to this. Someone stole his cab...or someone took it and was supposed to bring it back to him and didn't. The way he said it was very vague, as if he was trying to explain - this is not the truth, so don't expect any details. And that's how it came to be that he walked all the way to Bandra to Malad and now he was about to walk to VT. Because he had no money and all, poor man. It was so sad. He went to the church and all those people who would help, but no one did. You know how the world is. When people lie, people get bugged and don't help at all. It is so unfair.

He was smiling all the way like look at me, I'm a such a smooth-lying scumbag, but he still didn't get to the point. I almost wanted to take out a hundred bucks and give it to him. Oh you made me feel so nice for a second, you totally deserve it. After all, how could I expect some stranger on the road to suddenly shower affection on me like I'm his own daughter? It totally makes sense. This is the way the world should be. Random strangers shouldn't be nice to each other and shouldn't have any personal connection even if one of them looks like the other one's daughter. I almost did give him the money. But I didn't....maybe I'm just a cheapstake or maybe I didn't like to be conned into being generous. At the moment though, I was smiling my ass off too. Like it is such a joyous occasion that someone's cab gets stolen and they should walk to Bandra all the way from Malad.

So he got to the point where he told me he was hungry since morning, not a penny in his pocket and all. On top of that someone shoved him or he fell and he got this red welt on his knee. He showed me. We were still smiling. Oh how wonderful this all is. Finally he says something like, 'You know if you could just help me out a little bit...'
Oh goodie. Now we're business. I open my purse and was eyeing the hundred rupee notes next to all the cluttered tens. I knew I was going to give him money from the point where his cab got stolen. But, 'How much?'

'Oh just a hundred bucks!'

A hundred bucks! And he said 'bucks' too like he was my buddy. See when people think exactly what I'm thinking, it pisses me off. It's like he knew his performance was worth a hundred bucks and he knew I knew it too. No way am I agreeing to it now. I'm mean that way. I give him a thirty and send him on his way.

Anyway, that's the whole story. If he just said I looked like his daughter and told me how much he loved her, I wouldn't have been so comfortable in the end. Like this other old guy I met on a bench in Carter's who told me the same thing. And then he told me he was a persistent drunk and his daughter never gives him money and that his hand shakes because he has this constant erection problem. See now what I mean when I say I'd rather just give people money? Then there was this other old guy I met at a pan shop who told me who was this big builder who's name I was supposed to know and had a thousand plots in Bandra to show for it. He was dressed worse than the cab driver and kept asking me if I drank beer. He wouldn't have asked me for money on account of his being a builder and all, but I'd rather he did. It would be better than asking for favors.

I wish we live in a world where people just ask other people money and the other people would just give it. Then all these pretenses and lies and worst of all smiles, would cease.









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