“Musafir?” The voice on the other end of the phone asked.
“Yeeees, this is he,” I answered.
“Good to hear from you! I thought you’d be dead by now,” the caller said.
“No, I am not expired yet. Who the heck are you?” I asked.
“My name is Mat Data and I work for the U.S Census Bureau. I am going to ask you some census related questions”
“That’s not a nice way to introduce yourself. Moreover, why did you say that you thought that I’d be dead? That’s a rude way to initiate a conversation. Do you realize this?” I asked in disappointment.
“We ask this to avoid counting dead people. You won’t believe that we encounter dead people every day which may cause error in reporting the results.
“OK! But what kind of name is Mat Data anyway?”
“Well that’s Matri Dutta. Mat Data is the Americanized way of saying my name,” Mat explained.
“OK Mat, shoot your questions to me,” I desperately wanted to get over with this rude interruption in my daily life.
“Let’s start. Are you a gay, bi, transgender or queer?”
“No sir, I am straight.”
“You should consider one of the above categories. That will give you special status, protection and prestige that you don’t have now. That’s, of course just a suggestion for being a fellow countryman, you know what I mean? Alright, the next question: Do you enjoy or participate in ethnic jokes?”
“Generally no except for the Ladinis,” I answered.”
“May I ask why the Ladinis?” Mat asked.
“Because no one talks about them. They’d be happy to get any kind of recognition,” I replied.
“Who are the Ladinis?”
“You tell me. You are the census guy not I.”
“Time for the next question. Are you a Vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Vegan or fruitarian?” Mat further asked.
“I consider myself a selectarian,” was my answer.
“What’s a selectarian? Never heard of that,” Mat sounded perplexed.
“Two things. First, I choose my selection based on situations. People know me as a vegetarian, but when no one is watching, I eat everything that can fly, swim, crawl and walk.” I was just being honest.
“And what is the second thing?” Mat was curious.
“Since I have respect for the female gender, I don’t eat she-animals.”
“How do you do that?” Mat wanted to know.
“See brother, I take a sample of the meat for DNA testing before I eat them. When the test comes out as female, I don’t eat unless I am starving.”
“That could be quite tedious,” Mat said surprisingly.
“Not as tedious as the 100 plus pages in your 2020 census survey.”
“Well brother, we’ll mail you the mandatory survey soon. I must say you are an interesting fella.”
“I wish I could say the same for you.” I quipped.
The conversation ended.