Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mr. Kumar

Mr. Kumar is our landlord. He's an older Indian gentlemen with rapidly thinning hair and a bit of a gut. His blocky features are set in a constant scowl, as if he is always worried about something. The one time I've seen him attempt to smile, he presented Brian and me with a lopsided rictus that lasted for only a split second before he self-consciously reverted to his familiar glower. His favorite activities are chastising us for using too much electricity, warning us that this will cause our electricity bill to be very high, and asking us when we will have a copy of the apartment key made so that he can get into our apartment in case something happens while we are away (he gave us both of his copies).

Despite all this, Mr. Kumar is, at heart, a big softie. I see him playing with his adorable young grandson nearly every day, and he is always ready to offer us help navigating Delhi. Yesterday we had a discussion about restaurants, and afterward, he sent up his handyman (who appears to be a 12-year-old boy, but who can grow a full mustache) with a delivery menu from his favorite restaurant.

Favorite Mr. Kumar moment:
I was coming home from work one afternoon, and I met Mr. Kumar outside our building, watching his handyman play cricket with Mr. Kumar's grandson. When he saw me coming, Mr. Kumar waved at me and said "Wait one minute," before disappearing into his apartment on the ground floor. After a minute or so, during which I too played cricket with his grandson, Mr. Kumar reappeared, carrying a letter.

"Is this you?" he asked, pointing to the name in the address field. Although the address of my apartment was correct, the letter was addressed to a Mr. Christopher Ellis, which isn't even remotely similar to either my name or my roommate Brian's. I ignored the fact that Mr. Kumar was still unsure of my name six weeks after I moved in.

"Nope, that's not me--that's not similar to my name, or to Brian's," I told him.

Mr. Kumar thought about this for a moment.

"Are you sure?"

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