So I am standing in line, waiting to be served at the post office along with the rest of the 9-5 nerd assembly who only find time to send their cable money to the bloodsuckers in the Comcast Cable company during lunch break. Finally, it is my time and I get called to the counter.
Postal Employee Anna looks at me closely (a bit too closely, I think), smiles and starts speaking to me. I can clearly make out her lips moving and words coming out, but for the love of God I cannot understand a word she is saying. Its like I stepped into an episode of the Twilight Zone and discovered that during the night the world sent itself a memo, deciding from today onwards only to speak in reverse, and someone forgot to keep me in the loop.
Trying to keep up with her and failing miserably, I inquire "Excuse me? What was that?" She grins knowingly and replies "You know, you look exactly like my Italian neighbour's son."
Now lets just stop here and ponder this for a bit. She thought I looked like her Italian neighbour and thus, to her, it followed that I should be able to comprehend Italian. Whaa? Note that she did not mistake me for her neighbour's son. She merely thought I looked like him. The impeccable logic of this theory left me dizzy.
The uniqueness of the situation also left me with a desire to learn more. After all, I look like an average Indian, not particularly fair in complexion. I belong to the enormous gene pool from the sub continent who always reply "wheatish" when asked for their skin color.
I inquired "Really, what is the similarity?"
She replied "Well, his haircut is as short as yours."
Now I do mow my hair pretty short. Actually, since I cut my own hair, I have very little choice in the length of my hair. It's pretty much an in and out procedure for me. One minute my hair's there, the next moment, it is in hair heaven. But even with this uniquely short haircut surely there must be something else that flipped on the recognition switch in this woman's brain?
So I asked, "Really? That's cool. Is that all?"
She hesitated. I could see her mulling over our conversation in her mind, and realizing that unless she had a better reason for speaking to me in Italian, she would come out of it looking a bit goofy. After a brief pause she replied "Er no... not really."
I replied "Ah ok. Can I buy some stamps please?"
And so life returned to normal and I ceased to be European. Although I have to admit, being European felt great. Almost as great as being Indian. Even if it was only for a brief moment.