You don’t know Anything – Let me tell you.
I’m not saying this, Mr. Goyal said it – he repeated this phrase 20 times in 10 minutes last evening, when wifey and I bumped into Mr. and Mrs. Goyal. They were returning from the Mother Dairy and we were going there; we met halfway.
To appreciate the conversation that we had with Mr. Goyal you should know that last week their house was robbed. The thieves got in when the couple was away for two days, they broke into their house and made away rich. This should’ve been a sad event and it should’ve made all the neighbors commiserate with him, but it didn’t. You’ll know the reason why, when you’ve read through this snapshot of our conversation last evening.
It would also help if you knew that wifey hadn’t met either Mr. Goyal or Mrs. Goyal before last evening.
Our Chance Meeting:
They were on the other side of the road. We should’ve kept to ours. But we didn’t. Actually, I didn’t. I paused and greeted him. There’s nothing wrong with greeting a man some 25 years your senior – someone with 90% grays as opposed to my 5%. We grow up with a suffusion of Indian culture in our veins, and so most of us automatically greet anyone who is or looks older than us. So I greeted him.
If a man greets an older couple, even if the wife doesn’t know who they are, our culture automates her to imitate her husband’s movements, and so wifey followed suit. Had I been alone, that would’ve been that; and we’d never have crossed the road to talk to them. But Honi ko kaun taal sakta hai? (Who can stand in the way of fate?) The next moment, we were on the other side of the road, talking about the robbery.
Our Heady Conversation:
“We heard about it from the guard,” I said, with true concern, because not long ago, we had gone through a similar experience.
“What do you know about it? The one who loses his belongings is the one who suffers and knows. And about that guard…let me tell you, the guard is the one who got it done.”
The guard is a middle-aged man who guards our row of houses in night. He’s been here for 5 years – and all the houses pitch in to pay his salary. All the houses, except Mr. Goyal’s because for the last 5 years he has been refusing to pay his share. He says he doesn’t because Sab Sale Badmash hair. (Something to the effect of “All are bloody a–h-es!”)
Next he provided us with a list of all that he had lost. Around 6 Lakh Rupees in cash (that would be $10K,) his wife’s jewelry including her diamonds (that included a solitaire,) and everything else of value. He also told us that the police had come over three times, but he didn’t expect them to do anything. Police kya kar legi? (What will the police do?)
The RWA, the IITs, and Mrs. Goyal
He then launched into a diatribe directed against the RWA (Resident’s Welfare Association.)
“You don’t know anything, Let me tell you, it’s because they are all illiterates sitting there. The police told me that it’s because you have a guard that you got robbed. These guards help the thieves. These RWA people, who are they? Illiterate B…..tards! Saale Badmash! I was the CEO of one of the B companies (and he named a big Tata-Birla type group!) You don’t know. I am from IIT!”
For the fear of bursting into laughter on his pompous attitude, I just nodded.
“IIT ji IIT?” he repeated, trying to confirm if I was really so stupid that I hadn’t heard of the IITs.
But wifey who had been silent so far had to butt in.
“From which IIT?” she asked.
“I am from Roorkee,” he said then paused. I guess he smelled a rat. He always smells rats.
Mr. Goyal’s gray hair was a testimony to the fact that when he must’ve done his engineering, IIT-Roorkee wasn’t IIT-Roorkee but University of Roorkee. And yet, it was clear that he preferred to call it IIT-Roorkee. It may not sound funny to the younger crowd, but to older ears, mine included, calling our alma mater with its new name sounds absurd.
At this point, wifey pitched in and said, “Oh that’s nice. He’s from IIT too. Not from Roorkee though.”
Mr. Goyal immediately launched again.
“IITs are nowhere as compared to Roorkee. they are 100 times lower! You don’t know, 100 times. As CEO of the B company, I had more than 100 MBAs working under me. Now these RWA people, they know nothing. They shouldn’t be living in this colony. This colony is for good people, educated people.”
Then we heard a squeak. It came from Mrs. Goyal. She was trying to sneak in a word into the conversation.
“You shut up! When you don’t know anything, why do you have to speak. Don’t talk!” Then he turned to me again and said with his eyebrow quirked, “let me tell you.”
Saved by Wifey:
Then he told and told and told, until wifey decided to take matters into her own hands.
“We’ve kept you standing here in this heat, sorry for that. Why don’t you visit us sometime, then we’ll sit and talk over a cup of tea,” she said, folded her hands into a namaste and dragged me away.
I wonder if they’ll ever visit us.