I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Friday, March 24, 2006

"We are all Indians"

A friend of mine writes about feeling Indian in an Afghan restaurant in Prague in his diary. Reminds me of the night in Paris.

It was our second last night in Paris. We were coming down from Montmartre when we decided that we had been there and done that. The only thing left to do was to buy the T-shirt.

So we entered the largest of the souvenir shops on the Place du Tertre. It was run by Indians. Which was a big surprise since we were yet to come across Brussels, where most of these shops were run by Pakistanis or Bangladeshis.

After a lot of rummaging through scarves, key-chains, hats, posters, coasters, soft toys and the like, we reached the T-shirts. PJ found himself drawn towards the Starry Nights t-shirt. It would have been more appropriate for Amsterdam or Saint-Remy or MOMA. But then, he must have reasoned that art is universal. In the same shop, I found my favourite painter. Plus, this was the right thing to buy in Paris. Now the fun part of shopping remained.

Yes, bargaining. Having learnt our alphabet in Fashion Street and Palika Bazaar respectively, PJ and I were ready. Plus, we were accompanied by two female friends (who between them were buying two T-shirts). The shopkeepers were a forty-year old Indian expat and his brother. Almost unfair odds.

"How much?" P-K4
"10 Euros" P-K4
"Five hundred rupees?" B-B4
"10 Euros" P-Q3
"But we are students. Some discount for us." Kt-KB3
"Okay, how many will you buy?" B-Kt5
"Four T-shirts, we can't pay more than 20 euros for all of them", we said walking away. Kt-B3
"Okay, then don't buy. I can't give more than 1 euro discount. We buy these T-shirts at 8 euros each" P-KKt3 ?!
"We are poor students. You won't let us buy a T-shirt each to take back home?" said PJ. KtxP!
"Okay, you buy four T-shirts. I give you at 7 euros." BxQ??
"But we are Indians. While we can give you more than 5 euros, 250 rupees is all our parents would want us to spend." BxP ch
"Okay, but don't tell anyone else that you have got it cheap. We also Indians and can understand." K-K2 fcd
"Yes, we are all Indians. Here's the 20 euros" Kt-Q5 mate

P.S. Chess moves represent Legall's mate, one of the simple yet beautiful concepts ever.

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