On the face of it, there seemed to be an upswing in my popularity ratings amongst our townsfolk. The signs looked unambiguous.
For starters, I nearly burst a blood vessel when my neighbour's Sphinx-like face burst into a broad smile. The last time he had bestowed that honour was almost ten years ago when he tried show off his newly acquired set of dentures. Then why the devil did he smile? Did it have anything to do with my recent exploits at the badminton tournament, I wondered, as I set on my evening jaunt into the town.
On my way, I realised that I was famished and decided to provide my craving tissues with some restoratives. With great trepidation, lest I should be an easy prey to the prowling traffic warden, I steered my vehicle into a No-Parking area facing my favourite eatery. No sooner had I alighted than I heard the dreaded whistle of the traffic cop. What happened next took my breath away. The guardian of the law flashed a sunny smile at me winking at the same time as if to say, 'Go on buddy, have a ball' and looked the other way. It appeared to me that the local constabulary had finally recognized my place atop the pecking order.
At the restaurant, the waiter whom we had nick-named 'Iceberg of the tip' for his coolness towards customers who did not tip generously(he was always aloof and unfriendly towards me for being a poor tipper) suddenly turned effusive, dripping honey all around.
He fussed over me as if I were President Obama, serving lamb pilaf and a glass of milk shake in two shakes of a lamb's tail. To cap it all, the restaurant owner, a sour soul, if there ever was one, greeted me with bonhomie and offered me 'Triple Pudding' - on the house!
By then I was convinced that, for reasons not yet known to me, I had acquired an aura of pre-eminence which made people go out of their way to soft-soap me. Or, was it because the Devil had taken a day off, leaving everyone in town in charitable mood that made them yearn to pat the humanity on the back? I was to find out soon.
On my way home, my progress was impeded by a large festive crowd that had gathered in front of a TV shop bursting fire crackers and dancing to drum beats.
Then, as if on cue, a man appeared and shooed away the revelers and made way for my vehicle to pass through. As I thanked him, he peeped through the window and said, "Shout hurray to Dravid, Tendulkar and Kumble, Sir. We have just thrashed Pakistan at the Champion's Trophy."
As I complied, he stepped back and saluted smartly.
It was then that the scales fell off my eyes as I learnt the reason for the wave of magnanimity that had engulfed the town. Suddenly, I was thankful that it was not the day on which Zimbabwe 'thrashed' India.
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