Ignorance or pretense of being ignorant can save the day for the supposedly helpless! The literary conference in memory of great Kannada writer Seduyapu Krishna Bhatta was over. I boarded a bus from the town of Bantwala to go back to Karkala where I studied. These places are beautiful by the way and the people, very friendly but also very self respecting. There are exceptions and even heavens have drunkards! The day was well into the afternoon when a strangely clad lad got into the bus to find a place next to me. I was reading the newly bought Neeti Shataka - an ancient book on moral anecdotes but also glancing this lad next to me now and then in anticipation of something weird that I was sure would come. I could smell it, literally. He finally mumbled his way into asking me in Hindi language,
"What is your name?". ("Tumhara naam kya hai")
I looked at him trying to find a way out. He kept going, "Don't you know Hindi?". Suddenly I had a way out: ignorance. I immediately said "No" in Hindi (Nahi).
You do not know Hindi?
You speak Tulu then?
Ah, do you know Kannada?
You mean you do not even know Kannada language? He was getting confused already. I said in Kannada, "No I do not know Kannada", of course gleefully. I do not know how one feels when this happens when drunk. He did not speak a word until he got down in a place I have hard time remembering.
You may now be thinking this works only in India. Try this in other places you will be in trouble. Ignorance is shocking. It can shock people out of rhythm. That was case when I was walking back to my apartment from 8th Street. 8th Street is where they honk when Saskatchewan Rough Riders win Grey Cup, for instance (American Football)! It also has lot of grocery stores. Roughly about 2 km away from student apartments, this street is convenient to go to buy groceries. Summer days in Saskatoon are very pretty and calm. If the purchases are not heavy, walk is the best thing next to bicycling. What can it be when you do not have a car and when your bicycle tires are punctured: "walk is the best thing" on a "very pretty and calm day". The point is, I was not sure if the grocery bag was carrying me or I was carrying it. But only until a bunch of teen age kids seemed to be ganged up what I can now call, bit intimidatingly, by the side of the road on a public park lawn. Suddenly them seemed to have found a "pick-up line" I would say. There was some noise. I was not sure if that was some one singing (very nice!) or some siren or something else. So hazy but that was important enough for these kids. I am not a small man by even Canadian standards yet these kids to rose to the occasion to ask me "Hey, were you singing"? My eye balls were rolling allover.
"I did not get myself into this", I said to myself.
Were you whistling or something?
I pulled the only arm I had besides cucumbers and lentils, and threw it at them. "I do not know".
What was that sound ?
I do not know
Did you say something?
I do not know
All the while I kept walking and they were still figuring out what to do. They will never figure out what to do. Trust me.
Saskatoon is not a big city but Toronto is. People, not so different.