Sunday, January 31, 2010

The latest entrepreneurial endeavor in town…

…is feigning familiarity to siphon off some green bucks from unsuspecting people.

First the story:

Location: Pondy Bazaar, T Nagar
Time: 11:30 AM on a busy Sunday (a few weeks ago)
Charlatan: A well-aged, highly-decent looking, balding guy – medium height
Victim (potential): Yours truly…:p

Here’s what happened - I was in Pondy Bazaar, trying to locate Big Bazaar (don’t ask me why my friend and I chose that very landmark to meet up – that’s incidental).
So I, the epitome of a directionless body, was on the phone having the standard conversation “I am right near this guy selling flowers, are you on that the opposite side? Wait, are you on the left or right; no, no, I mean if you face the flower guy, then are you on the left or right; okay okay, I understand you have not spotted the flower guy yet! – Forget it, I’ll get where you are!”
To the flower guy: “Anna, Big Bazaar, where?”
(Did you just sneer and say “women!”? I don’t blame you just this one time :))

Out of the mass of people I was surrounded by (those who have been to this infamous place know what I am talking about; others please try to imagine a crowded place with only the space you occupy as that available for breathing – and yet I go there, but that’s a different story!) – I see this middle-aged guy waving at me – I ignore him.
And then he’s right in front of me, his hand extended out – “Remember Madam? Shankaran from the airport? Air India counter?”

I could not recall meeting this guy at all. But he looked so sincere, and being the fool that I am, I pretended I recognized him, “Oh, I see, Hello” (Big Blunder 01).
I am known to smile at random strangers (without any malicious intent, obviously :D), and I thought maybe this guy had helped me at the airport, you know, with my luggage sometime, or with an extra hand bag tag when I would have managed to lose mine after the security stamp, and we must have exchanged…errr…well, smiles!.

The man continued, “How are you Madam? I am here because of my foot injury – came to see the doctor”.

Emotional lightweight (me): “Oh, are you better now?” (Big Blunder 02)
Crook: “The doctor has asked for 1500 rupees, I have only 600”

Fused tubelight (me): (to myself) "Oh god, is he after money; do I really know him…am I carrying 900 bucks in cash…does he really need the money?" (faith in strangers dies hard – Big Blunder 03)

Crook: “Can you please lend me 900 rupees?”

Flickering bulb (me): (to myself) "He is only after money, Yuvika – Vish will be mad – get out of here!"
(to the man) “I am sorry, I am here to meet someone (can’t still admit, I don’t want to give him any money cos I don’t trust him) – where is Big Bazaar?"

Crook: “Right on the opposite side, but ma’am I need the money”

Enlightened being (me): “Thank you, I am sorry I don’t have money” (Delayed, but nevertheless finally, the great escape!)

And so I turned around and ran across the street at the fastest speed ever, with this man following me and shouting, “Madam 500 atleast”
What a sight it was! I did manage to get him off my trail and locate my friend – All’s well that ends well?

I tried putting the episode behind me, and didn’t tell anybody about it at the risk of worrying my folks.
And, I would have never blogged about this had I not met the same guy again outside Odyssey in Adyar. I was with my in-laws this time. He approached a relative with the same unassuming, genuine disposition, “Hello, Sir – Adi Narayanan from the airport – Air India counter!
He did not notice me. It was time to make amends. I told my uncle not to acknowledge the guy as he was a rogue. We did just that. We just ignored the guy, and after a minute or two he was gone.

Most of us have heard of such incidents, but when it comes to that moment, we are seldom mentally prepared to do what must be done. I thought it’d be a good idea to share this with you guys - not sure if this is happening in other cities as well…but Chennaites, beware and take care!

14 comments:

  1. Very intersting blog. Congratulations.
    Daniel D. PEACEMAN, writer and editor of Contemporary Horizon Magazine
    E-mail: drgdaniel@yahoo.com

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  2. yuvika, u seem to have some really interesting experiences!!! how do u manage :)

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  3. I think I attract trouble :)...

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  4. Guy was an idiot.He should have asked 100 bugs only.I am sure u would have given him that amount:D

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  5. actually yes, i wud have done that :)

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  6. Obviously,it was not a genuine need.
    Finally,all izz well.

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  7. ha ha ! these guys have an association and they are in every indian city ! have met scores of them :)

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  8. My first time - a learning experience for life :)

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  9. A simple way to find out if the person is genuine or not is to offer for direct help.
    Someone asks:
    1. Money for traveling ticket.
    - Buy him/her a ticket by visiting counter.
    2. Money for Food
    - Buy them food and ask them to eat it upfront.

    For this particular incident you could have asked him about the doctor reports, what kind of disease, what meds he is on..

    This act of a few people stops us helping the real needy one's.

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  10. I agree...I wud tend to be weary of genuine guys too...

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  11. :) :D

    I have interesting stories in similar lines too. Some other time. :)

    Nice read. And great escape. :)

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  12. will wait for your stories, Sameera!

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I appreciate you taking out the time to share your valuable opinions! They mean a lot!

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