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By Nickunj Malik - Jan 04,2017 - Last updated at Jan 04,2017
As we step into 2017, let me wish all my dear readers a very Happy New Year. I must also tell you that the security personnel in and around Jordan love my home country India. How can I affirm this with so much certainty? Well, take yesterday’s incident for example. We were stopped by a heavily armed police contingent on the highway. Though it was not very late in the evening, darkness had descended all around us.
My spouse veered the car towards the spot the officer had waved us towards, and switched off the vehicle. I rolled down my window because the passenger side faced the group and saw at least six sharp shooters equipped with heavy weaponry. They were all in uniform with masks covering half of their faces and were unsmiling. Holding the load of the hefty machinery literally, and carrying the burden of defending your country figuratively, is serious business, I thought.
After the initial exchange of greetings in Arabic, which I had by now memorised, the senior-most sergeant asked us where we were from. “Al Hind”, I replied. In the six years that we had lived in Amman, I had learned to answer that in a perfect Jordanian accent. He wanted to know if I could speak Arabic. “La”, I emphasised, which meant that I did not. A tiny frown marred his smooth forehead when he heard my response.
He asked us one more time where we were coming from. Three of the machine gun carrying constables walked over to stand next to him, their weapons pointed in our general direction. My eyes started to glaze over with fear and my husband and I reacted at the same time. “Irbid”, he said, naming the province we had driven from, in the outskirts of Jordan. “Delhi”, I said simultaneously, naming the place we belonged to, in India.
“New Delhi?” he quizzed, unbelievably. “New Delhi”, I repeated after him. “Aha! Mera joota hai Japani?” he questioned. For a split second I could not figure out what he was saying. His shoes are from Japan, my husband translated helpfully. “Not Japan, New Delhi is the capital of India. We are from India”, our daughter piped up from the back seat. “Al Hind”, my spouse echoed.
“Yes, of course! New Del-hee,” the sergeant stressed the last syllable.
“I know it. Shahrukh Khan, Amir Khan and Salman Khan. But the best was Amitabh Bachchan and before him Dilip Kumar, although the all-time great was Raj Kapoor. Mera Joota hai Japani,” he rattled off a small speech, naming all the legends from the Indian film industry.
I realised suddenly that I was holding my breath and exhaled loudly.
“Can you sing that song?” he asked my husband.
I could see the armed cops smiling through their masks.
“La! He is not a good singer,” I answered truthfully.
I did not want any of the guns to go off in a reaction to his singing.
“He can quote one of Amitabh Bachchan’s famous dialogues,” I offered.
“Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai,” my husband recited.
“It is not only difficult but impossible to catch Don,” I interpreted.
“Kahan se aaya, mein hoon kaun,” the sergeant sang off key.
“Where have I come from, who am I,” I translated.
“Mein hoon Don,” my spouse hummed, turning the car.
“Let us go before the fireworks start,” I cautioned.
“Wallah habibi! Mein hoon Don,” the officer chorused, waving goodbye to us.
Once upon a time it was easy to get married.
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