Hello India!!!

Hello India!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

There are good people and there are bad people …

It’s hard to tell who’s a good person and who’s not. That’s why you just go with your guts. Just today I encountered a person who looked like he could be a good person – turned out he wasn’t. The astonishing part about the whole situation was the fact that I was able to keep such a straight face in my most terrifying experience in India. I was scared to death but somehow I kept my poker face on. [Gosh Kia, I never knew you were so witty and hard core.]

Today I had only one class. I decided that I would go ‘exploring’ around the Park Street area by myself to get to know the city better. Everyone else had class so no one was able to go with me. I discovered something extremely scary about Kolkata. So the story goes something like this:

I was walking on the street with my fire-red scarf around my neck. At an intersection a guy noticed that I didn’t look “Bengali” so he walked up to me.
Raj: Are you from China?
Me: No.
Raj: Where are you from?
Me: South Africa.
Raj: Really? But you look Chinese?
Me: Yeah, I get that a lot.
Raj: Is your mom Chinese?
Me: Yeah.
Raj: Where you going?
Me:  Aw… just shopping around…
Raj: What are you looking for?
Me: Nothing in particular.
Raj: You mind me walking with you?
Me: No. I want to walk alone.
Raj: If you want me to, I can leave you alone. I respect your decision; I mean there’s no use following you if you want to be left alone. I can’t talk to you if you won’t talk to me.
Me: Ok. Thanks.
Raj: But how long have you been in Kolkata? I can show you around.
Me: No thanks, I’ve been here for 2 months and know my way around.
Raj: Really? How much longer are you here for?
Me: Until May.
Raj: Hey, you want to visit my shop? I sell postcards and travel stuff. Stop by and help me, please? It’s a family business.
Me: Naw, it’s okay.
Raj: Come on. Please? It’s close by.
Me: Ugh – sure??? (I said YES to shut him up).
Raj:  Ok. So, what’s your name, sorry?
Me: Naina.
Raj: Nana? In Hindi that means ‘grandpa’
Me: That’s funny – (pause) – What’s your name?
Raj: Raj.
Me: Oh? I see. There’s a lot of Raj’s here.
Raj: Really?
Me: Yeah.
Raj: You’ve met other Raj’s?
Me: Yeah I have.
Raj: So, why are you in India?
Me: Studying. I’m a college student at St. Xavier’s.
Raj: Oh? Cool. What are you studying?
Me: Mass Communication.
So we walked and walked until he finally made a pivotal turn. He walked into a small alley way. I pondered a bit before walking after him. My guts told me: THIS IS NOT SAFE, KIA. DON’T TRUST THIS JERK. I halted. I took a few steps back. Then I said:
Me: Ah, forget it!!! (raised my voice) I’m going this way, ok. (Distrustful body language)
Raj: No, no, no… this is a short cut to my shop.
Me: No, I’m going this way. (Walking on the main road with a lot of people walking my direction, since I was on the right side of the sidewalk by this point)
Raj: That’s the long way – there’s too many people and it’s too crowded.
Me: I don’t care. I’m not going that way. (I pulled out and started backing away from the alley way)
Raj: Ok, we’ll take the long way then.
At this point he concluded that I’d figures out his malicious plan so he took out his cell phone and called someone. I was walking behind him and noticed that he’d become embarrassed. Among the wave of people walking on the street I shouted from behind him:
Me: Nice to meet you Raj, but I gotta go. Bye.
Raj: Bye (still on the phone)

This “Raj” guy could have telling the truth; his name may really be RAJ, he could have owned a shop for real, he could have been trying to take the shortcut, he could have been honest with me. But I’m new in town. Mainou (and others) have warned me to not be so gullible and naïve. 

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