Mr. Singh

I used to work with a great guy in the Bay Area named Virendra Singh.  Not everybody can say that.  (By the way, it’s pronounced “Vee-rrren-drrrah”, rolling the r’s).  He was a tech heavy back in the 80’s.  Virendra was from Fiji.  Tall, dark, and handsome.  Wow.  He had a winning smile and a very appealing accent.  He spoke deliberately, confidently.  You couldn’t help but like him.

Virendra had an idea once.  Being from Fiji, he was ethnically East Indian.  His ancestors came from the subcontinent.  Virendra told me his mother was a wonderful cook and they wanted to open an Indian restaurant.  He went so far as to trademark the name “New Delhi Deli”.  I don’t think it ever got off the ground, but it was a great idea.  There is actually a New Delhi Deli currently in London.  Probably not as good as Virendra’s mom’s cooking.

I was invited to a Halloween costume party at Virendra’s house one year.  It was during the “Dallas” craze on TV.  I didn’t watch it, but I was familiar with the concept.  So I had the idea of dressing up like a Texas billionaire.  I went out to the local Goodwill store and bought a “fancy” cowboy hat, a cowboy shirt with embroidered loops that looked like lariats and little guns for buttons, and a “matching” cowboy jacket, with a similar embroidered pattern.  I also bought a bolo tie, and I had some Fry boots and blue jeans to complete the outfit. 

To emphasize the billionaire aspect, I bought a huge plastic cigar and a used Monopoly set (never played it growing up!)  I took the Monopoly money and stuffed it into the pockets of my shirt, jacket and pants.  I looked ridiculous.  But surely like a billionaire to anyone who watched TV back then.

As I walked in Virendra’s front door, I affected a bad Texas drawl.  I had a wad of Monopoly bills in my hands and started passing them out to everyone I encountered.  As I walked up to Virendra’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Singh, they took a step back at my appearance and demeanor, and sort of gasped.  I had never met them.  And vice versa.  They thought I was the real thing.  Amazing the power Larry Hagman had.

I handed Mr. Singh a wad of bills and said “There ya go, son” (drawly pronounced “suuuun”).  “Keep it!  Keep it!  There’s plenty more where that came from!”, or some such nonsense.  Mr. Singh, being obviously a man of honor, refused the “donation” and handed the “money” back to me, saying “No, no, no.  I cannot take it.  Tank you…tank you…tank you.  I cannot keep it.”

All evening he looked at me funny from across the room.  I think he eventually understood the joke.  At the end of the night, as everyone was saying their goodbyes, he made a point of coming up to me and said “Tank you…tank you…tank you,” as he clapped his hand on my shoulder and smiled at me.  He had his son’s winning smile.

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