Long work week, longer commute to and fro, work load, horrible weather and really nice colleagues – result: no gossip to liven up things. And then it happened...like in a soap opera, episode by episode. No saas-bahu kissa though. Just a pretty overseas volunteer, a local romeo, the local "dada", a shoe shop and us spoil sports.
She - the volunteer - had settled in pretty quickly, found her way about - the tailor, the cyber cafe, the sabzi walla, the boutique and the shoe shop. Whenever we'd meet she'd give us an update on her life so far and her explorations. Then one day she asked if it was the custom here (in Kolkata) for young men to tell women "I want to make frend-ceep"! What??!!! Not one of those again. Most of us have had at least one proposal for frend-ceep, if not more!
"No, of course not. Don't even bother to reply", we told her. She nodded. Then she said, well this guy keeps calling her Madam and begs her for one minute (of her time) in between asking her for frend ceep, telling her how nice she looks and how fair her skin is. Where did you meet him? At the shoe shop. He is the owner's son. Ignore him and go to another shop, was our advice.
We kept asking her, ribbing her about her "frend" and her "fren-ceep" shoes. He had progressed to asking for her cell number, where she worked, where she stayed etc.
"But why do you still go to his shop?" “I don't. He follows me on my way to the cyber cafe".
And then one day, she came running looking rather panicked. "He followed me all the way here. And kept asking me for one minute please".
Gone were our smiles. She would frequently go to the cybercafe at night ... her only way to keep in touch with friends and family far away. What if....
We rushed to our Director and told her. And she found the solution too. And fast. In came the strapping young realtor who is the local dada cum Good Samaritan. He was informed about the little problem. And within 15 minutes, the frend was called and for an informal chat with our Director. Just her, him and the dada. In polite icy tones, he was asked to desist. And all the while, the dada had his friendly hand clamped on the frend's shoulder. The frend who had swaggered in, baseball cap on, crept downstairs all thoughts of frend-ceep gone!
While we, gossipy old biddies, that we are....lurked and grinned from the sidelines!