Manjiree, Ranjan, Ramesh and I had gone to see a film on Wednesday and after the film went shopping in the mall just below the multiplex where we had seen the film.
After shopping, Ranjan and Manjiree went off to get some medicines from a chemist in the mall, leaving Ramesh and me to walk at our pace to the lifts to go down to the parking level.
As we were doing just that, one matronly lady halted me in my tracks and asked me for directions to a big retailer and on learning that I was ignorant, excused herself but asked me if I was from the armed forces. I was taken aback, but responded saying no, and I was just a civilian when she responded that my bearing and attire gave the impression of a military officer and that is why she had approached me in the first place. In the meanwhile a gent strolled up and she introduced him as her husband and we exchanged names while shaking hands. That took her off into a joy as she said that her brother’s name was the same as mine and asked me how old I was!
These developments may sound corny to my readers but this is exactly what and how it all happened. I simply did not get any time to think of doing anything else but to answer her machine gun style questioning. She then asked me about which part of the country I was from and on learning that I was from the same place as she and her husband switched over to our mother tongue and for the next few minutes she told me all about her moving from Delhi to Pune, about her two daughters, about my gothra to see if I had a son of marriageable age for her younger daughter, and finally she stopped after asking why I was using a cane. Despite my trying to get the husband to participate in the discussions, he simply enjoyed the Lucy effect on me with much bemusement!
In the meanwhile Manjiree and Ranjan landed up and on being introduced to them, she took off with Manjiree in Tamil which the former cannot understand or speak and that kind of brought things to an end but, not before the lady complained to Manjiree that her husband does not wear the kind of clothes that I was wearing despite having a wardrobe full of them! While she was talking with Manjiree, I went to a nearby shop and found where the shop that was her destination and informed her. The two of them then tooted off with much waving and goodbyes, leaving us to find our way to the lift.
The story does not stop there. In the car on our way back home, Ramesh simply exploded with frustration that strange women do not approach him with such abandon and wondered what he could do to become such a magnet! I advised him to learn Tamil and to emulate a military bearing. What other advice could I have given him? His response? That lady is abnormal. If that lady is reading this I am sure that her response would be: