The last two days I was in a city that I am getting to dislike immensely. With every visit the resentment grows. My disappointment stems from a couple of factors. (OK I AM biased and you can call me a bigot!)
Their regional pride nothwithstanding, the average man on the street is positively rude to visitors and hold the unreasonable expectation that he/she should know the local language. The autorickshaw drivers are known egotists. And this rule holds true in all Indian cities that have this species. But here, they are absolutely the best in class. First, they wouldn’t run their meters (I wonder why they even have them!) and anywhere in the city would cost in multiples of fifty, irrespective of the physical distance. 1 km = Rs.50/-. 2 kms = Rs.100/- (if he likes you!) so on and so forth. One fellow tells me that under ordinary circumstances he would charge Rs.50/; but since the route to my destination has traffic snarls, he would charge me 30% more. I asked him whether because of the traffic, the distance to the place has increased? Or, should I ask my destination to move to a less congested road? Or, should I visit my destination ONLY when the road is empty? This of course had no effect on him since he feigns to not comprehend my language. At this point, I actually stomp my feet to the amusement of the people standing at the nearby bus-stop. Finally, I get to where I had to go after a little drama and giving in to the fellows demands.
The city has no ‘josh’. Absolutely none. If one wishes to go and shake a leg or chill out, the options are limited unless you want to get stared at and share your space with locals who wear more gold on person than what my entire family owns. This is applicable to both genders. And I am not kidding. I had a co-passenger on my flight, who had all his fingers encased in gold. By gold I mean rings that are large enough to make the metal detector go crazy. Then he had a bracelet which was as thick as the steel pylon they use to hang suspension bridges. Then a necklace of equal thickness. Finally, he flashed a gold coloured Nokia! When we walked towards the terminal gate after disembarking, El Dorado walked with us shining like the second Sun. I was very tempted to ask him if I can take a picture with him but chickened out.
Last evening an old acquaintance who met after five years said “You haven’t changed!” I wanted to ask him what changes were he expecting! But thought it would rude.