Vantage point

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pre-Emptive Strike

Whoever says blogging is a useless activity that does nothing in spreading knowledge, should read about this experience of mine.

I was in Walmart, gathering my weekly loot, when a friend called. Spoke to the friend for a while, and noticed that a young desi-looking lady in the aisle was looking at me. There was a dude with her. After I hung up, they came up to me and the lady asked "Hi, Are you from India?". This question itself set a small alarm bell ringing in my head. Penn State is full of Indians, Walmart doubly so. Why would a couple generally walk up to me and start talking? Very very fishy. I said yes I was. Then there was some small talk. Where I was from, where they were from. How Bombay and Pune are amazing cities. The lady then said she couldn't help overhearing me say something about PhD. Was I a PhD student? I said indeed I was. The guy then took over the reins and said even he was a PhD student, and he understood how difficult it is to make do on a PhD stipend. I didn't say anything. Then he said he had funding problems because his advisor didn't have any money after the 3rd year, but he managed to get through anyway because of an alternate revenue source. I nodded.

He then said, "So Gaurav, take care. PhD life here can be very tough. It is always good to have supplementary income. Makes life much easier. We bought a new car this year." Then he asked me for my number. No, he didn't actually ask me for my number. He must have adapted to being fake-numbered many times. He asked me to note down his number on my phone. And then ring him up at once so that my number will be saved on his phone.

Two days later, as expected, I got a call from them. The lady was talking.

Her: Hi Gaurav, how are you doing?
Me: Fine. How about you?
Her: We're great too. Listen, we're visiting a friend in your neighbourhood. Would love to drop by for a chat. Are you free?
Me: Oh yes yes. Of course. In fact I was just about to call you guys and visit you.
Her: Really?
Me: Yes, you see, I didn't tell you that day in Walmart, but I have this freelance independent venture business. It is really great in supplementing my income, and I think you guys can benefit from it too.
Her: (looooooooong pause) Ummmm...
Me: Are you there? It is really brilliant, and has guaranteed success you know. You guys should sign up for it too.
Her: Actually Gaurav, we kind of have a similar business too.....
Me: Doesn't matter, you should sign on for this one too. The more the merrier, right?
(Him and Her discussing something which I couldn't hear for a while)
Her: Hey Gaurav, sorry, just remembered we have to visit another friend of ours. Will call you some other time. Bye.

She hung up without letting me say anything more. And I collapsed on the bed laughing. Thanks Hirak, George and Ameya for enabling me to turn a potentially harrowing experience into an entertaining one.