I’m a week and a half into my Bangalore phase of my life and I’m stuck in a quandary which, at first glance, may seem pitiable, but on the second, hilarious.
I have three credit cards and four debit cards in my wallet and not a penny, dime, nickel or rupee in cash. I was banking on swiping these precious plastic cards to get my way around the city, at least until I get my first paycheck. The first thing I did when I came to Bangalore was go to a nice, expensive restaurant for lunch with my parents and my younger brother and order everything on the menu, including the kitchen sink. (Well, almost!)
When the obsequious maître d’ arrived with the check, I grandly whipped out my wallet and selected my Capital One card and gave it to him. Eyes sparkling and mouth watering at the thought of a fat tip, the man went to do the needful. He returned a few minutes later, and I could see the hatred in his eyes clearly.
“This card doesn’t work in India,” he said, handing me the card back, and added, “sir” with venom.
I gulped. I took out my whole arsenal of plastic cards and gave it to him. “Use whichever works,” I said.
Unfortunately, none did. And fortunately, Dad had his wallet on him. He ended up paying close to five thousand rupees and tipped the obnoxious maître d’ a paltry ten bucks. He literally kicked all of us out. As a final revenge, he made us wait for close to fifteen minutes in the sultry afternoon heat before the valet brought our car to us. I wished I could disappear.
Since then, I’ve been absolutely penniless and desperate for any sort of financial help. And by financial help, I mean the occasional ten-twenty bucks for coffee, smokes and fuel. Dad still pays for the fuel, but grudgingly. I can almost hear him laughing inside – US-returned, my ass!
Come Monday, I start working for this pretty cool PR firm called Hanmer and Partners. I can’t wait to start, only to get my restlessness out of my nerves and more importantly, to get my hands on a card that actually works in India!! I’ve met most of my old friends already, caught up on old times and when its time to pay the check, I always fall back on this line: “Hey, its your treat this time! I paid last time!”
Most of my friends are good-hearted people and they recognize a plea for help instantly and pay for me. Not for long, I keep telling myself….
Not for long.