Sunday, June 8, 2008


It was a Sunday afternoon...evening actually except these temperate days are so long in summer, no wonder these people delude themselves by extending afternoon so much that it obscenely encroaches upon evening, which evening then forays into nighttime. Anyway, I was standing at this bus stop in DC waiting for a bus to NY. There were no labels indicating this was the actual bus stop. In true geeky fashion, I had a printout of the e-ticket with google map directions on how to get to a bus stop. It was a cheap bus and the stops were not clearly marked.

I was not sure and needed to confirm with someone else whether this was the actual bus stop. I needed to ask someone. Let’s consider this for a second. George Carlin famously opined, “Imagine the person with average intelligence. Now remember that half the people are dumber than him.” Ok, so it is not a verbatim account, but you get the picture. With my luck being the way it is and with Murphy being my companion from toddlerhood to youth, the odds were against me getting to ask confirmation from a bright person. Here I did not pause to think as to where it puts me on the intelligence Gaussian scale to have to ask someone for confirmation of a bus stop.

The guy I spotted was Indian looking. Now, the first thought is relief. Hey, this guy can probably relate to a fellow desi’s confusion in the West. Hey at least I am not like those FOBs who ask for directions after scanning the geography for a brown guy! Or wait, am I?

Ok, so this dude is Indian-looking. He might have been born here, which creates a major problem. How do I ask him the question? Do I ask in Hindi? What if he is a south Indian? Most European languages work with these guys, but Hindi they have not warmed up to yet! English would be the right choice, come on...he is here, stealing American jobs; he must know the damn language!

More importantly, how do I ask? Do I ask in my regular style or in a hammed up American accent safely stored in the arsenal of any Indian in the USA? The hammed accent might work, unless of course he is a newly entered desi. In that case, he would see through it easily, and I would have handed him a great story for the daaru parties! Stupid ass! I’d rather wait for the bus and hope it comes here.

But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? Ah it is the east, and there is a hot girl in a halter top standing alone! Yup, I am asking her. I would ask her the time or the day of the week or whatever came to mind. And here I have a legitimate question. And here, without a doubt, the hammed up American accent is the best! If I was European, I would have had a sexy exotic accent, but Indians are uniquely disadvantaged in this department.

I move confidently ahead till I am really close, poised with my accented question well rehearsed, and the original desi asks her the same question! She replies that she too is waiting for the bus to the big apple and it would arrive here. I was too close to pretend I did not hear it and ask for an encore. The desi screwed my mojo. And they wonder why Indians hate each other! Did I mention he is a stupid ass? And now the bus arrives. And I know there is going to be some obese guy with beef breath spilling onto my seat while that desi will get the pretty girl next to him. Did I mention he is a stupid ass?