I wiped my sweaty brow with a ragged cotton cloth and then retied it around my forehead. It was a hot, summer afternoon and the railway station was teeming with foreigners (aka potential bonehead passengers). I settled down i my cycle rickshaw, awaiting a passenger.
Sooner than I had anticipated, a well-dressed, bespectacled man adorning a hat sauntered up to me. The way he strutted made me want to either announce the arrival of Queen Victoria and blow trumpets or throw a brick in his face; real hard. He probably wouldn't appreciate the latter. How do you politely tell someone you want to hit them in the face with a brick? Somehow, 'One wishes to acquaint your facial features with a fundamental item used in building walls; repeatedly,' sounds acceptable.
"How much do you charge for a town tour?" he questioned loftily, nose in the air. Was he asking me or talking to the air? I hated him instantly. However, his question surprised me considering the fact that firangs took a liking to those newly introduced open-air buses. This man was clearly here to experience the traditional Benaras.
"Five rupees, sir," I replied, resisting the urge to kick him in his soft spot. He agreed and asked me to show him the newly constructed complexes around the town. Oh, well. So much for traditional sight-seeing. I geared up to pedal across town. To set a good impression on this toerag, I took the route that would kick-start the tour with a fancy multiplex.
"This was built in just two years, sir!" I intoned enthusiastically. Actually, I didn't hate him. I just wasn't particularly excited about his existence.
"Bah!" he spat. A speck landed on the handle bar and I fought the impulse to tie him down and make him sing soprano for a week. "In my country, such a multiplex was built in just one year!" There. He is a bag full of suck.
I, however, was determined to show Benaras in a good light. I quickly pedaled over to a tower that held my fancy every time I passed by it. "This, sir, was built in a year! Impressive workmanship, eh?" I prodded him. His Highness replied arrogantly, "This should've hardly taken a week to built. My country is better!"
This charade continued for quite some time. Infuriated with this pompous passenger, I took him to our grandest cinema house and stood their quietly with a puzzled expression. Eager to show off, the limp noodle asked, "Say, how long did this take to build?"
Pretending to bewildered, I said, " I don't know sir! This wasn't here in the morning!"
It's been half an hour but he hasn't gained consciousness yet!