S called me in the middle of a busy day. But that was okay, because I wasn’t doing anything important anyway. I was just busy, which is a completely different thing.
“Did you read this NY Times article on this boom in tourism to Mexico?” she asked me.
Now, I hadn’t read that NY Times article. But I wasn’t going to say so and have her describe the entire article right then, was I ?
“Well, what’s so surprising about that? ” I asked her. “Mexico has lots of places to see, right? I mean, apart from Cancun? Relics from the Aztecs and the Mayans and what not ?”
“Oh, I am not talking about that kind of tourism”, she said. “That’s old-fashioned tourism. This is tourism with a cause.”
“What, like eco-tourism?” I asked. “Cleaning stables and milking cows? Wait, I did read that NYT article about honeymooners choosing eco-friendly honeymoons.” (I had only read the headline, but wasn’t that good enough?)
“No, not that one. This is more self-centered. You haven’t read that article yet, have you?” she asked.
I wasn’t going to admit to anything. “You mean medical tourism, right?” I asked. By now, I had decided to drop the pretense of even knowing where she was going.
“No, guess again. Why would people want to go to Mexico? What can you get there that is much more expensive in the US?”
Well, I thought. What can I get in Mexico that is more expensive in the US? That would be Mexicans, of course. Cheap labor, I mean.
“Oh, you mean carting Mexicans across the border to pick apples in California? That’s old news”, I said dismissively. I had seen enough Jay Leno episodes to know that happened all the time.
“Wrong, guess again! I give you one last chance!” she said.
A light dawned in the dim reaches of my mind. “Ah! You mean visa tourism, then!” I said, patting myself on the back for being so brilliant.
“What’s visa tourism ?”, S asked in confusion. Aha!
“You know, when desis and other H1Bs cross over to Mexico just to get their visas stamped”, I said.
“Nope, that’s not it, but very similar. Okay, I will tell you what it is – gas tourism” S said. “You go across the border to fill your SUV tank and then you return. Gas, you see, is just $2.66 a gallon across the border, while in the US it’s $4 and climbing.”
Now I have seen it all.