The doorbell chirped (yes, chirped not chimed, because it makes a strange bird noise). On the other side of the door was a small round Indian man, with a woolly beard and glasses. He looked a bit like a bear. He introduced himself as being from Vodafone.
Forceful in nature, much to my dismay, he was inside the door before I knew it. I wasn’t pleased because I’ve started wearing a mini skirt around the house in retaliation towards the heat. Fortunately though, he seemed more concerned about the fantastic Vodafone birthday offer that he had for me, rather than my lack of attire.
“Where should I sit?”, he demanded. Reluctantly, I directed him to the sofa cum bed in the living room.
“What are you? Are you Indian?, he wanted to know next. Partly, I told him. The answer obviously didn’t matter though because he’d already pulled a book out of his briefcase, ready to sign me up for the birthday offer.
The birthday offer, from what I could gather, was another SIM card for my mobile phone, one that would allow me to have free calls to any other Vodafone number. He didn’t really give me too many details, and I didn’t really want to know. I told him I wasn’t interested because I have a pre-paid account and rarely make calls.
“It doesn’t matter’, he insisted. “It’s a special birthday offer, and you must take it. You can have two SIM cards. All you have to do is pay a one-time charge”. Despite my protests, he prepared himself to start writing down my details.
“Do you have a PAN card?”, he asked. No, I told him. “A driver’s license?” No. “Huh, why don’t you have these things?”, he questioned me. Because I don’t pay tax here and I don’t drive here. “Oh, well, you must have a passport. Get that for me”.
I don’t want your offer, I insisted. And what about this one-time charge? How much is it? “1,000 rupees”, he replied. What?! “Okay, okay. You can have the other offer, 350 rupees only”.
My husband was working in the music studio at our friend’s bungalow next door, so I decided to call him. What if it really was a good offer? (Thinking like an Indian who believes it when they receive a text message saying they’ve won a jackpot). “Send him over”, my husband said.
“And what does your husband do?”, the salesman asked me. When I told him that he works in the music industry as a DJ/producer, his eyes lit up and he eagerly jumped up off the sofa. “Yes, yes, I’ll go and see him now. Wow. Maybe he might have a job for me!”, he enthused.
As he headed out the door, he turned to me. “Have you had your lunch?, he questioned. It was 4 p.m. And he was asking me if I’d had my lunch! I’m constantly amazed at how obsessed Indians are with people’s eating habits, even the habits of strangers.
My husband called me five minutes later. He was a freak wasn’t he, I laughed. “Yes”, my husband replied. “A huge freak, I told him off and sent him on his way”.
What? Without even finding out about the fabulous birthday offer?