Smitha and I were shopping at Target this past weekend, and as is the norm these days I was pushing little Rohan around in his stroller while Smitha went through the aisles picking, unpicking and then re-picking various items that seized her interest. I was mostly bored and lost in my thoughts when I was brusquely interrupted by an unwarrantedly loud “Are you from India?” from a formally dressed middle-aged Indian gentleman. I nodded my head in affirmation as curiously enough I did happen to be from India, though for the life of me I cannot figure out what gave that away!
The next few minutes he proceeded to converse with me about how lots of Indians were in the US these days on H1 Visas, how a lot of them went on to get Green Cards, how he recently moved to Atlanta from Arkansas, how he’d be delighted to introduce his wife to me (apparently she was elsewhere in the store at that time) and a few other topics that I don’t remember right now. All I remember thinking was how to get out of this conversation, especially since I had a sneaking suspicion that this guy was trying to sell some Amway like pyramid scheme on me. Fortunately Smitha called for me at that moment and I used this opportunity to say goodbye to him, but before I could do so he handed me his business card and asked me for mine. I did not have one with me and when I said that to him, he quickly produced a piece of paper and a pen out of nowhere – honestly, I didn’t see where he took it out from, he was like a conjurer – conjuring pen and paper out of thin air. With heavy misgivings I wrote my first name and phone number on his magically produced piece of paper and gave it to him and we parted.
Needless to say, Smitha gave me a quick firing-down for giving my number to a stranger, but fortunately enough she was soon distracted by a shelf containing the oddest looking ladies’ purses I have seen in a while. Normally this would have worried me since I definitely didn’t want her carrying around one of those revoltingly unattractive purses, but at that point I was just relieved to get out of her firing line. Just then I noticed a middle aged Indian woman conversing with a young, pretty and trendily dressed Indian girl (looked like she was in her early 20s). Now I don’t want to come across as someone who eavesdrops when 2 strange women are conversing in front of me, but I couldn’t help catch a few odd words here and there. It didn’t take me too long to realize that this woman was basically dishing out the same stuff to this girl that the strange guy had earlier dished out to me, and in a minute or so I saw the hapless girl hand over her phone numbers to this lady (I distinctly remember her explicitly specifying her land, work and cell numbers). I was certain that this middle aged lady was the earlier gentleman’s spouse and at that point it became increasingly evident that they were soliciting phone numbers from Indian looking folks.
My suspicions were confirmed a little later when we left Target with Smitha’s shopping picks for the day. The middle aged couple were walking together towards the parking lot, and most markedly they did not have a single item with them (forget a bag). They had basically spent close to an hour inside Target seeking out potential Indian victims (who they hoped would be new enough to the country) and collecting their information. I fully expect to receive a phone call this week inviting me to a gathering of some sort where this gathering would most definitely be a sales talk for some crappy pyramid scheme. Obviously I would get out of it with a clever excuse but I really do feel sorry for the pretty young girl who did seem naïve enough to fall into this trap. Oh well, I suppose she will eventually learn that strange Indian looking people approaching you in the middle of a store and asking you if you are from India are to be treated with the deepest mistrust and skepticism possible. Oh, and we are going to Target this evening – Smitha wants to return a hand bag that she took half an hour to select, apparently she did not like it when she looked at it this morning and so wants a new one. Sigh!