"Are you from France?"
I wheeled around to face the questioner, a dark young pot bellied guy in a faded gerua T shirt and pants, trying hard to put me at ease with his paan coloured smile.
That had to be the best compliment I got in my life, being compared to the sexiest sub species in the human kingdom. For a moment let us not focus too much on the qualification of the commentator in making such a statement but just let the comment sink in. Ahhh ! I’ve been mistaken for being a Brazilian, Sri Lankan etc but that was ages ago in a far away city called London. But the fact that I've been complimented for my looks here in my own country by a fellow countryman , I realized I had finally arrived. Big time ! This had been the purpose of all my years of wandering, vagabonding and travelling. The grand finale ! The climax ! The setting was also scenic and intensely spiritual, right on the ghats in Benares by the inky black Ganga. I had to summon every ounce of my inner strength not to get misty eyed...
|Sunrise @ Benares|
Seeing my blissful knowing smile, Mr. Pot Belly assumed that I must indeed be French and began a conversation in French to which I responded gamely with smatterings of the language I picked up in college and later. He offered his services to buy me hasish, ecstasy,,ketamine and 10 other drugs I didn't even know existed. I slowly realized that Mr Pot Belly was hinting subtly that I looked less like a French sex God and more like a French drug addict.
After I stopped running for my life from Mr Pot Belly, I met an old gentleman who headed me in English and wanted to know which country I was from. Look guys, I was dressed in kurta and jeans just like any other self respecting Indian intellectual. The only difference was that I just had my bath. Was this some sort of scam where these guys lower your defences by softening you up comparing you to a gora and then try to sell you hasish and a boat ride? Having learnt early on in my travels never to underestimate the ingenuities my countrymen were capable of, I gave him the cold blank expression befitting a French drug addict.