Travelling13 mins 10.3K 13 mins 10.3K
There are certain things in life which we can never know if we don’t travel. These experiences are not found in any book, and there are few people who would share these experiences with us. The first experience which I remember was when I was going back to my college in Mysore. I remember that there was a railway station on the way known as Itarsi, and the train would stop at that station for almost fifteen minutes. The cold milk at Itarsi was very famous, so when the train stopped there, I got off to get some for myself.
On the station, I saw that some people had gathered around a person, who was performing some tricks for them. I joined the crowd and saw that this person had three plastic glasses, which he was juggling with. He kept asking the crowd to find out which glass had a coin underneath. A tall, heavily built man told him which glass had the coin underneath. The man had guessed correctly, and the juggler handed over a hundred-rupee note to him. I also took a ten-rupee note from my pocket and handed it over to the juggler. He kept juggling the plastic glasses. The crowd around me started suggesting which glass I should choose, and I agreed to their suggestion. They were right, and the juggler handed over a hundred-rupee note to me. I became eager to earn some more money this way and handed him the hundred-rupee note. The crowd again guided me, and I again agreed to their suggestion. This time the guess was wrong, and I lost the hundred rupees.
My craze for quick money didn’t stop, and I took out a fifty-rupee note. The scenario was repeated, but this time I pointed to the glass which the crowd had not suggested. The juggler showed me that the coin was placed under the glass which the crowd had suggested. Suddenly I heard the whistle of the train and saw that the train had started pulling out of the station. I kept the wallet back in my trouser pocket and started moving out of the crowd. But the crowd dragged me back and told me to play more. One of the guys in the crowd held my arm, and the other caught me by my shirt and started dragging me back to the juggler. Somehow I managed to pull myself away from them and started running towards the train.
After managing to get on the train I took a deep breath. I saw that my shirt was torn, and there were bruises on my arms. I took a cigarette out of my pocket and lighted it. I realised that I could have missed my train and lost my luggage and been stranded at the station. I was travelling a few years later, and at one of the stations I saw a juggler doing the same trick with a small crowd around him. The memory made me smile.
Everyone is attracted by easy money, but one should always know that, ironically, easy money has a price to pay. The lure of easy money always has some traps around it. The jugglers may change their game and style, but their intention and the traps will always remain the same.
There is another trap which is very common in our lives, as this next episode will show. In my college days I would often go out of my way to help my friends. Sometimes I would lend them my vehicle, share my clothes with them and what not. There was a college senior of mine who was a college union member, and one day he came to me to borrow my scooter because there was some problem with his bike. He told me that he wanted to visit one of his relatives and that he would be back in the afternoon. I gave my scooter keys to him and told him that the petrol tank of the scooter was completely filled and that he needn’t worry about the petrol running out. He told me that I should not worry about anything, as he would take good care of my vehicle, and happily drove away.
I went to my college library and came back in the evening. I found that he had not come back yet. I had my dinner and started waiting for him. It was twelve in the night, and the guy had still not returned. I just couldn’t get myself to sleep and went to his roommate to enquire how I could contact him. His roommate knew nothing about where he had gone and when he would come back, neither did he know anything about how he could be contacted. The next morning, when I was waiting at the gate of the hostel, I saw this guy pull up with my scooter inside the hostel. I went to him and asked him what had happened. He told me that the fuel tank had become empty, so he had to drag the scooter all the way back. I parked the scooter inside the hostel garage.
When I came back he was waiting for me in front of my room. He told me that his relative was not well and that he needed money urgently. I told him that as it was the end of the month I didn’t have enough cash with me. He pleaded with me with his hands folded and asked for help. Then he told me that he knew a moneylender and that if I could lend my gold chain to him, it would save his relative’s life. I couldn’t say no to him, so I took off my chain and gave it to him. He thanked me again and went away. After a few days he came back to the hostel and I asked him about his relative. He told me that his relative was back home from the hospital and would be all right in a few days. I didn’t ask him about my gold chain at that time.
Weeks went by, and whenever this guy met me, he never spoke about either my gold chain or his relative again. Time passed by, and one day I went to him and asked him when I would get my chain back. He told me that he had some financial crisis and would get the chain back after some time. I asked one of my friends, Parmod, for advice and how I could get my gold chain back. Parmod told me that I should not have given my chain to him, adding that as he was our senior, he might not return the chain because he would graduate from the college before we would.
I got scared and went with Parmod to this guy and told him that I wanted my chain back. He started pleading in front of us, but this time I didn’t listen to him and told him that he could exchange the gold chain against his vehicle with the moneylender. We went to the moneylender and put forth the proposition that he could take the vehicle and return the gold chain. The moneylender agreed to it and gave the gold chain back to us. The relief was written all over my face. I quickly wore the chain and went back to hostel. I promised myself that I would never lend money or anything else again.
Saying no to people had never been easy for me, but I had to learn it and ended up learning it the hard way. Sometimes people take undue advantage of our behaviour, and in the process of doing something good for someone, we end up creating trouble for ourselves.
Internet shopping may be all the craze these days, but I once had an experience which scared me about shopping from the Internet or believing someone over the Internet for good. In 1997, I learned to use a computer and the Internet. I would spend an hour or so every day chatting with different people, especially girls.
One day someone contacted me while I was chatting and asked me if I was interested in buying a cell phone at a really low price. I asked him about the details, and he told me that these were stolen phones, so he was looking for buyers over the Internet. I asked one of my friends if he was interested in buying a good-quality phone at a very cheap price, and he readily agreed. We both took the contact number of the person and fixed an appointment with him.
We reached the venue right on time and called him up. After some time, we saw a tall guy walking towards us. He confirmed our identity and showed us the picture of the mobile. We were very happy and excited, and then he told us the price. We negotiated the price with him, and he almost reduced the price to fifty per cent of what he had quoted. I asked for the phone, and he told us that we had to pay him the cash right away, after which we could collect the phone from his house, which was nearby.
I consulted my friend, and finally we decided to trust the guy, as he appeared to be genuine. So we told him that we would pay him half the amount right away and half after the delivery of phone. The guy agreed with great reluctance. He handed us a slip which read, ‘My name is Ranbir’. He told us to go to a particular place and give the slip to the person who lived in house number 41 in sector 11 of the area. I asked him to come along, but he told us that there were other customers waiting for him and that if there was any problem we should contact him.
We drove to the address given by him. On our way we were very happy to have made such a deal. Throughout the way, I boasted to my friend about the deal that we had made, all because of me. We reached the area, and after reaching house number 40 in sector 11, we started searching for the adjacent house. We tried our best to locate the house and finally gave up. Then we went to house number 40 to enquire about house number 41. The person told us politely that this was the last house in the sector. He further told us that he was aware of the deal, as there had been a number of such instances recently.
I called the guy who had given the address a number of times, but we were not able to contact him because his mobile was switched off. We couldn’t do anything now, and neither were we able to complain to the police – we would have only got ourselves into trouble, as we were not exactly doing something legal by buying stolen goods. And secondly, against whom could we complain? My friend and I simply went back home. Though we lost money, we both got a valuable lesson. And since that day, whenever we meet each other, we always greet each other by saying, ‘My name is Ranbir’.
Probably the best lessons I learnt were in Mumbai. I was staying in a hotel in Mumbai, and I had to go out every day for a vendor visit. After a few days I felt very bored, as life had become very monotonous. Then one day, I got a call from a colleague, who told me that he would be coming to Mumbai in a few days. I had to pick him up from the airport, so I hired a taxi. On my way to the airport I picked up a conversation with the taxi driver. I told him that I had been living in Mumbai for quite a long time. I also used a few words of the local language. He dropped me at the airport and told me that he was an honest man, but because of a few taxi drivers everybody thought that all taxi drivers in Mumbai tried to cheat people. He also told me that with his experience he could make out that I was not from Mumbai. Before leaving he told me that one should learn to read people’s faces if one wants to live in this city. This came as a big blow to me, as I learnt that when dealing with different people, one should become capable enough to know them well and the best way to deal with them.
I started waiting for my friend at the airport, and when I saw him I was the happiest person. I greeted him, and we took a taxi to the hotel. We kept on chatting with each other and discussing our bosses, what I was doing in Mumbai and so on. After about forty-five minutes I asked the taxi driver why we hadn’t reached the hotel, and he told us that it would take another forty-five minutes. I was surprised because I had reached the airport from the hotel in thirty minutes. We started having a heated argument, and finally I agreed to pay him the amount that he was demanding. After doing so, we reached the hotel within ten minutes. The mistake that I made was that I did not enquire about the destination, neither did I take a map with me or ask anyone about the routes. The previous taxi driver was correct – that one should know how to deal with different people differently, and there is no one rule that is applicable to everyone.
The next day was an off day for us, so we decided to visit a few places in Mumbai. The first place we went to was the Chowpatty Beach. We took the directions from the hotel and asked the staff to arrange a taxi for us. This time we were playing safe. We reached Chowpatty and started strolling around. We had a couple of coconut drinks and also had some famous Chowpatty bhel puri. We saw the people around us having fun throughout the beach.
After a while, we came to a shop where there were a lot of balloons and the owner had an air gun. He was attracting the crowd by saying, ‘Fifty shoots for five’. We went to him and told him that we would like to test our aim. He filled the barrel of the gun and handed it to us. We started firing on the balloons. We stopped after a few shots and asked him the amount we owed. He told us that it would be fifteen hundred rupees. We were shocked and told him that we hadn’t fired fifteen hundred bullets. He told us that we had fired a hundred and fifty bullets and five bullets cost fifty rupees, and so we had to give him fifteen hundred rupees. We saw that a number of people had gathered around us and were supporting the shop owner. Since this was the second such instance in a row with us, we came to know his trick and paid the entire sum to him.
We went back to our hotel and discussed about our experience. My friend also shared some of the experiences that he had had at other places. He told me that during his visit to Jaipur he went to a shop for souvenir shopping. A guy inside the shop pushed him gently, because of which a crystal bowl was broken. He was asked to pay a huge sum for that crystal bowl, failing which the shopkeeper threatened that he would call the cops. After a heated conversation the shopkeeper called the cops and told them about the instance. The cops sided with the shopkeeper and began threatening my friend, and he had to pay the entire sum. He later wondered how the cops could come so early, and he went back to the shop. The shopkeeper didn’t even recognise him, which confirmed his suspicions that the cops were not real. He didn’t take the next step of going to the real cops, as he had to leave the town the very same day.
Different people at different places cheat you differently. The lesson that these people gave me was that one should be extremely careful while experimenting with something new. Keep your ears and eyes open while travelling, as people create new tricks everyday to cheat other people. These traps are laid in different ways, and we fall into these traps when we go for easy money or enjoyment – or mostly when we think that we are too smart to fall for them.