Pavement outside a mall, 0230 hrs.
A street side vendor selling tea and paranthas. His "stall", a cart, is flanked by three four cars, a motley crew of people and a police jeep. Everyone is busy digging into their late night parantha or sipping their lazy glass of tea.
Enter me,with waist length hair, with two friends; Sahil- a 6'3" fellow with a rattail, Prabhat - with a tiny ponytail.
The police eye us, talk to each other..
Police man : Hey you.Where are you from ?
Us : This neighbourhood.
Police man : You don't look like you are from this neighbourhood. Men from our place have hair that befit men.
Other policemen snigger inside the jeep
Prabhat : We are from this neighborhood. We stay at ..
Sahil : I am from Bombay.
Police man : Oh. That explains it. [looks at me] And you ?
Me : Calcutta.
Looks of acknowledgement and profundity exchanged between the policemen in the jeep.
Police man : Why do you have such long hair ?
Me : I have made a vow for wish fulfillment at the temple.
Police man : Which temple ?
Me : Kamakhya, in Assam.
Silence descends on the policemen in the van. Another one comes up with an observation.
Police man : And the goatee ? That is a vow too ?
The other policemen snigger again.
Me : No, that is for no reason. Just felt like it.
Silence again. Yet another observant policeman quips in.
Police man : Why do you wear ear rings ?
Me : I am a Brahmin. In our region, you are supposed to pierce your ears during the sacred thread ceremony.
Police man : Here only lower castes wear ear rings.
Me : [faking amusement] Oh ok.
Vendor : Your tea is ready.
We proceed to the tea stall. Fake smiles and good byes to the policemen.
Sahil : It always works..religious bullshit.
Me : It does.