Saturday, October 15, 2005

A tale of two countries...

As this author pens this piece, he realizes that he has been terribly inactive on the blogging front for the last couple of weeks. But I must hasten to explain that it is because I have had to be terribly active in the real world – something I’m not particularly keen about, but something I have to do to justify the faith that the European Union has (mis)placed in me.

To get down to actually writing (and trying to figure out if I still remember to write in languages other than Java), here goes…

The Glaswegian, myself and (part of) an unfortunate Englishman

Around three weeks ago, a young Warrier packed his little all and scooted to a not-so-little place called Glasgow.

Glasgow was, to sum it up, rather a disappointment. But then, living in a place like Edinburgh prejudices you against most places (unless of course you’re visiting El Dorado or Shangri La).

But that doesn’t take away from it the fact that Glaswegians are terribly interesting people. If one were to be a little more unkind, one would use the word ‘weird’ – but being the nice, well-bred and sweet young man that I am, I will not say so.

Standing by a bridge in Glasgow at two in the afternoon, I asked my Nigerian friend to snap a picture of me and an English friend of mine. As I primped myself to look even more dashing than I usually do, I did not notice a slightly inebriated-looking middle aged man walk towards us.

But the inebriated-looking middle aged man did notice us. Before I could say a word (or two, for that matter), he put his arm around me, pushed Ian (the English chap) out of the frame and plastered a very drunk grin on his face. It was a laughing self that posed for the camera with the old soak. The normally reticent Ian was too shocked to say much, but merely looked a little more perplexed than he usually looks.

After my clearly amused friend had snapped a picture of us, we assumed the old soak would go along to whichever pub he haunted at this early hour. But the friendly neighbourhood Glaswegian had different ideas. Energetically shaking me by the hand, he asked me,

‘Where ya from, mate?’

‘Er…India…’, said I, for I had still not overcome my initial surprise.

‘Welcome to Glasgow, mate! We’re SO glad to have you here… Have a great time in Glasgow!’

He asked Deji, the Nigerian bloke, the same question, and welcomed him equally effusively - the ridiculous grin still in place.

And then, he turned to Ian, who looked like he would have much rather preferred to have been in a cave in Afghanistan hunting for bin Laden, butter knife in hand.

Ian is as English as the English get, if not even more. The ‘Englishness’ of his English accent would probably put the Queen to shame – what with his erudition oozing out of every syllable. He is, to cut a long story short, the kind of chap who’d never have caused Queen Victoria to raise a cultured eyebrow and snort a nasty ‘We are not amused!’ (though Queen Victoria would have been equally likely to bellow an uncultured ‘Off with his f***ing head’ if faced with our Glaswegian hero.)

‘Oh, rather, I’m from England, what what?’

It was the work of a moment for our hero to wipe the grin off his face. He glared balefully at Ian and said,

‘You’re a ruddy Englishman! Go away, f*** off!!’

If Ian had looked perplexed til then, he now seemed a trifle shocked – as shocked as he ever gets.

‘I say! What?’, was all he could come up with.

The Glaswegian continued, ignoring Ian’s protests that he could not possibly f*** out of Scotland at such short notice.

‘You!’, he said – the grin back on - pointing a stubby finger at me, ‘and you’, this time looking cheerfully at the Nigerian, ‘are invited to the pub – free drinks on me. You’re visitors to Scotland!’

Ian had by now lapsed into silence, and was probably wondering when the Glaswegian would pull a carving knife out to expedite the process of his f***ing out of Scotland.

The Glaswegian turned to him and said, ‘NO Drinks for You, mate.’

And then, with a parting wave to us, and a muttered ‘go back to England’ to Ian, our cheery Glaswegian took leave of us.

And he never did tell us what the name of ‘his’ pub was…

I’m leaving on a short tour of London during my mid-semester break next week. It promises to be a fun trip – what with six of us haunting the old metropolis for three whole days. But unfortunately, before I can leave, there are pressing issues such as an assignment that I have to deal with. So the next week will presumably be spent in writing in a little-known but much-hated foreign language called Java. So, until then, adios amigos…or as the Scots are wont to say, Cheers Mate!!