shEr-é-HindustaanIt was hot. Heat with pincers. We had just bounced our way to Fatehpur Sikri, one time capital of the Mughals. The physical discomfort was nothing compared to what was to follow. As soon as we arrived within 300m of the steps to the Buland Darwaaza, we were hounded by locals wanting to guide us through the ruins. Even after repeated refusals, increasingly point-blank and rude inspite of ourselves, we continued to be followed and pursued like some renegade governor was by the emperor's men. It was as close to non-contact assault as possible. Sadly, a manifestation of the desparate economic conditions of the area, but in that heat when people are so relentless, then you lose your head a little and don't mind not being historically educated.
Our pursuers finally tired of us and went off in search of the mandatory Japanese/NRI tourists. A little round of the inner courtyard later which consisted of fighting off sellers of chaadar, dOr & assorted memorabilia, and a visit to Salim Chisti's Dargah, we deposited ourselves by the shade watching the wheels of unorganised tourism roll by. It was then that this happened:
Cast of characters: Sridhar, Anupam and moi. Little boy and tinier-almost-infinitesmal brother.
INT. By the courtyard. S-A-M are sitting, a little pensively.
L.B.: Saab, shEr sunOgE? Sirf paa.nch rupayE.
S-A-M (blinking, a little disbelief at what they just heard.): Kyaa? Nahi.n, nahi.n.
L.B.: Me.n nahi.n saab, yeh (points to T-A-I-Bro) sunaa_Egaa.
S-A-M (now beginning to be amused at this novel sales pitch): Eh? Yeh? Yeh kyaa shEr sunaa_Egaa! Nahi.n chaahiyE
L.B. (pulling out the secret weapon in his marketing armoury): Saab, sun liiji_E saab. Yeh dil dhaDakaadegaa!
At which point we just convulsed into laughter!
Despite that fabulous USP, we didn't take up the offer. Later, we were hunted down by many mini-wannabe-Ghalibs, but the first one was easily the most memorable...
Seems like a lot of bloggers are recounting conversations these days!