Do you have this in India?

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I’m reading David Sedaris. I adore this writer, even if he refers in this book to an (obviously) Indian telemarketer as poor, as one with a voice full of snakes, and mangoes. Reading on, I’m reminded of another David who I was with for four of seven days, last week in Israel.

“Do you have UPS in India, Shashi?” David had asked me. He meant the courier service, whose truck had just then passed us by.

“India is a two-trillion dollar economy, David,” I told him. “Everybody is in India.”

I needed to shut him up. Every few minutes during the long drive from Ben Gurion to my hotel on Hayarkon Street he’d been picking on India. And I hadn’t recovered from a potshot he’d taken at India over dinner with me last night:

“You know what, Shashi?” he’d said. “I saw in Chennai six men on one cycle.”

Please, dear reader, if you know of a rapid-learning course on how to hand in this sort of plight the quick repartee, please tell me. I’d be seeing a lot of David in the months and years ahead, and I cannot afford anymore this slow wit of mine.

While you try to help me, I must check if we’re really a two-trillion economy. I think I read that in a newspaper some time ago. If we’re not that size of a nation, I’ve to think of a way of telling him the actual fact before he finds out for himself and decides I’m a bluff. Maybe I can tell him we did two trillion through our long history.

But that doesn’t sound like a good line.