The cheeky little roseboys!
A little flower boy tried to impress me with some dance moves and English. "Whats up nigga" to sell roses?
A majority of us have experienced children on the streets of Karachi, pestering us to buy things from them. They seem to attack us in herds from the moment we step out of a shop or a restaurant. You say you are not interested, but they try their luck over and over again.
My visit to Pakistan a few summers ago was an eye-opener. Instead of the usual 'Baji ek lay lo' approach, they were using English to target locals and foreigners. While shopping in Defence, I was approached by a boy who tried to sell me a rose. I tried to stray him away, but he wouldn’t listen. Then, out of the blue, he said: “What’s up, nigga?” and started grinning. This was accompanied by some ‘hero type moves’ and an American accent.
This little kid, I’m assuming, didn’t know what this offensive phrase meant, and perhaps heard someone say it, and thought it was a cool thing to say. Whatever the case, rather than taking it as an insult, I found his accent and act so entertaining, that I burst out laughing. In fact, I couldn’t stop laughing. Since the kid made me have a good laugh, I felt obliged to buy a rose from him.
But before heading off in my car, I desperately wanted to hear a repeat, so I requested the fellow to say the phrase out loud again. But he refused to. The cheeky little thing said that he would say it only if I bought two more roses from him!
A few weeks later, my friend encountered a similar incident. The kid she was approached by said the same phrase with such gusto and humour, that she too started laughing. So there again, like me, she also purchased a red rose. What amazed me the most about the kid who approached me was that he was able to pick up on a buyer’s emotional responses almost instantly. I was dealing with a smart, talented little salesman, who knew exactly what to do and how to act in order to lure a customer.
At that time, I remember thinking: If only these kids had the education, guidance and opportunities, they’d be capable of so much more.