Umbrella and raincoats..!
“What difference would that make?” I asked equally pleasantly. “The student kind have extra strong steel ribs inside that are able to with stand a lathi charge,” he said without a change in his pleasant face, “and instead of cloth we use tarpaulin to withstand water cannons during a morcha, bandh or a Baba Ramdev hunger strike!” I told him I wasn’t a student, nor interested in Ramdev and we moved into the interiors of the shop, “Would sir want a transparent one or one which will safeguard his privacy?” “I wonder what privacy there is to safeguard in the rains!” I laughed and the pleasant looking salesman laughed with me, “ I assume sir is single?” “Why should you assume that?”
“Because if your madam walks a little close to you in the monsoon, or if sir has forgotten to put his top shirt button, the moral police who are now swarming our country will immediately arrest you!” I told the young salesman that my wife and I kept a decent distance between us even during the rains, “And I always wear my top button,” I shouted. “But sir you have a beard!” said the owner coming quickly as soon as he heard my raised voice.
“So what?” I shouted. “You could be mistaken for a terrorist, so don’t take a transparent one, or you may be arrested by the police!” said the owner and the salesman smiled at his owner, looked at me and nodded in agreement.
“Maybe I’ll take the one that isn’t transparent!” I squeaked and the pleasant looking salesman smiled his approval as his boss went back to the counter. I thought for a moment and then decided I’d choose a raincoat instead, after all raincoats I was sure did not have such conditions attached, so quietly walked out without the umbrella and into a shop selling raincoats next door.
“Do you want a thin plastic type or a canvas one sir?” asked another pleasant looking salesman. “Ha, ha, ha!”I laughed, “Even you have conditions don’t you?” “What do you mean sir?”
“To beat the water cannons, the moral police and because I shouldn’t be identified as a terrorist because of my beard isn’t it? ” I asked laughing hysterically. “Isn’t that why you asked me what type I wanted?” “No sir! Just to beat the monsoon rain sir..!” said the salesman and looked at me strangely.