The Lost Mobile Phone – II

I hope that my readers will remember my posting about losing my mobile phone and all that I had to do to protect myself from possible misuse of the lost phone.

Suddenly this morning, I received a call from a friend with some good news. Someone had rung up my friend using the last-call-made-number registered in the hand set to inform about finding the handset and offering to return the same. My friend took down the details and passed it on to me and I rang up the gentleman who came home to deliver the same to me. I insisted on compensating him for the conveyance expenses and the trouble taken by him, which he finally and with much reluctance accepted.

I am actually surprised to get the hand set back. It was obviously taken by someone from the rickshaw and lost again at the local railway station from where it was found. It is most gratifying that there are decent people still around who take the trouble to find the owner of lost property and return it. Is it any surprise that the gentleman is a member of the Home Guards?

While I am very happy that the handset has been returned, I will now have to go back to the police station to report having found the phone.

Rights Of The Cheated And The Cheats.

“”It is not that the honest pursuit of one’s selfish interests cannot be a social good. It is that if one is selfish, why would one be honest?” – Robert Brault.

When I read this story in the New York Times regarding Shoplifters, I could not believe my eyes.

I am fully on the side of the shop owners, who need to do whatever needs to be done to protect themselves. If the solution is to hand over these shoplifters to the police every time one is caught, the shop keeper will simply be spending avoidable time and expense attending court cases.

I believe that this is sensationalism by the press. The next thing we will have is ambulance chaser type of lawyers filing class action suits and civil rights do gooders raising a lot of noise too. The starting point of shoplifters stealing will get buried deep down.

Rights? What rights? To steal? I think that it is ridiculous to talk about rights of the shoplifters in this situation. What do you think?

Stitch Together Five Paragraphs.

Conrad came up with this brilliant idea that we would get three of our common friends to write a paragraph each on any subject that they can think of, and also individually get two of our individual non blogging friends to write similar paragraphs and see what we can do with such disparate writings to turn into a coherent whole,

Grannymar, Conrad, Maria and I have accepted the task, though it is more of a challenge than just a hack’s job. The three common non blogging friends who wrote are Deb, Margaret and Maynard. In my case, I requested Simon and Anil to write and they have also kindly obliged.

Reading the five pieces of writing, I just could not find anything common that could make the whole lot put together to form a coherent whole post. The youngest, Simon came up with something that is troubling him from the outside. The oldest, Anil went deep inside into his memory pool to dig up something that became a turning point in his and his family’s life.

The three others, all of the same age and falling in between these two extremes in terms of age, came up with two introspective writings and one, Maynard typically decided to play Falstaff and came up with a puzzle.

I have decided that the only way I can make any sense of a post on these writings is to become the Grand Old Man, which title has been very generously bestowed on me by three of the writers and two of the bloggers. I have decided to use my considerable research ability to comment on each person’s paragraph and leave them as well as the readers to come to a conclusion about what sense they can make of my comments. My comments are not original, as I am not very creative, and I have simply given quotes which I think are appropriate to the topic covered in each paragraph. I expect that better sense can be obtained when my readers comment on the post and further discussions can take place.

Read on.

Simon’s angst:

“The Economist recently published an article stating that women are now over half of the workforce. Although I have not been able to read the article I am aware of some of the issues it has raised. Most of my female friends are intelligent, driven women who have graduated and obtained high earning jobs in the corporate world. However they have now reached the age where they wish to downscale their work life and have children. Due to the norm of dual income couples, house prices and the cost of living have increased and make it hard to survive on one income, and the corporate world does not often let mothers have an easy or flexible part time role. Will both the corporate world and the role of mothers suffer?”

My contribution to that outpouring:

“…there is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in a war and some men are wounded, and some men never leave the country, and some men are stationed in the Antarctic and some are stationed in San Francisco. It’s very hard in the military or personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.” Press conference, 3/21/62. – John F Kennedy

Deb’s sorrow:

You all have probably seen pics of my Sheltie dogs. I have had Bubba, the male dog, for almost 13 years!
Yesterday, he got up from a long nap on the ceramic floor, shook himself and fell flat and could not get back up. I was immediately sick to my stomach because I know he has reached the expensive stage of his life. I also know that I won’t have him much longer and that makes me even sicker to my stomach. He and I have a lot of history together and that will leave a huge hole in my heart. I guess all I can hope for is that he goes quietly and doesn’t suffer. If he does suffer, I wonder who I can bribe to take him to be euthanised because I know that is something I won’t be able to do! I start to cry just thinking about how much I will miss my best friend.

My contribution to that outpouring:

“Near this spot are deposited the remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man, without his Vices. This Praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery if inscribed over human ashes, is but a just tribute to the Memory of Boatswain, a Dog.”
– George Gordon, Lord Byron, “Inscription on the Monument of a Newfoundland Dog”

Margaret’s wistfulness:

My contribution before I reproduce her:

“Awake, my little one! Before life’s liquor in its cup be dry!” – “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”:

This morning, around the time of my second cup of strong coffee, realized that I did not dream again last night. This has me wondering if I’m not dreaming at all or if I’m just not remembering my dreams. I miss them. Have always dreamed vividly, lots of thrashing around, talking out loud, waking up any house guests, and about the strangest things. Some have been down right scary, waking up with a jolt of adrenalin and thinking WOW!! But for the most part, my dreams have just been entertainment for me, fun to rethink and try to make sense of. I’ve decided to take action in the form of supreme pizza right before bedtime. Sure hope it works!

My contribution to enable her to have perhaps better experiences:

“May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!” – Shakespeare in Hamlet.

Now for the enigma Maynard’s contribution:

My enigmatic response to that:

“All the thoughts of a turtle are turtle.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.”
– Alex Haley

Anil, another Grand Old Man who, I hope, will start blogging soon, has this anecdote from his childhood:

“Coming from an orthodox Hindu family, my siblings and I grew up with a host of dos and don’ts. We had to learn about many defilements, external or internal. These were matters of principles which were purely matters of convenience depending upon work, time and place and had no logic to them in most cases. Most defilements were principally around food and beverages. Milk was hawked by people who couldn’t be touched but the milk they sold was acceptable! I suspect liquor was a “NO” anytime but in retrospect, I wonder why men often spent weekends out of town. One day on return of my father from one of his trips, my brother, then seven, challenged these customs and flung his food and anything he could get hold of, around the house. My father, a soft-spoken timid man, joined him and soon we were all flinging things around. Finally, a shocked grandmother tearfully decided only she would follow her customs and rules and we could do as we pleased. We’ve never looked back since.”

Phew! My response to that unearthing of a long buried memory:

“Family quarrels are bitter things. They don’t go according to any rules. They’re not like aches or wounds; they’re more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there’s not enough material.”

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, “Notebook O,” The Crack-Up

Chandru At His Best.

My neighbour and friend Chandru, is semi mobile following two coronary artery bypass surgeries and a subsequent infarction. He is also highly diabetic and depends on his wife Vimlu and a live-in male nurse Chotu, to help him move around inside the house. His friends help him to go outside to the park and to take a stroll in the garden when the weather permits. He is a great friend and a more generous and warm host is hard to come by. Here is a file photo of Vimlu and Chandru:

When both Vimlu and Chotu have to go out to do something, Chandru when awake, sits on the dining chair at the dining table, which is the nearest piece of furniture as one enters his home. He normally sits there just in case someone comes so that he can open the door without too much trouble, using the other dining chairs and the side table to support him.

What follows is a true story of this indomitable man and his hospitality.

On one occasion when he was sitting at the dining table and having his morning cup of tea, while both Chotu and Vimlu had gone out, the door bell rang and with difficulty he opened the door and found a total stranger greeting him effusively with a “Hello Uncle, how are you?” Chandru, not one to reveal his inability to recognize the man, replied equally warmly and invited the man inside and made him sit at the dining table and insisted that he wait till Chotu came back so that he could join Chandru for a cup of tea. The two chatted for about ten minutes on the weather, Chandru’s health and other matters of great national importance, all the time Chandru showing his impatience with Chotu not returning to give the guest a cup of tea.

Finally, the visitor, gathered enough courage to ask Chandru, where Ranjan was.

Now, for those who do not know who Ranjan is, he is my son.

Chandru and I both stay in a Housing Society with two identical buildings side by side, each flat identical to each other in both the buildings. As you enter the buildings, the ground floor flats on the left side are ours. Nelson, the visitor, instead of entering the building where our home is situated, went in to the other building absentmindedly, and thought that the old man sitting at the dining table was Ranjan’s grandfather. Nelson had heard that my father had moved in with us, but had never met him.

Once, Chandru realized that Nelson had entered the wrong flat, he was most disappointed that the visitor was not a guest to his house, but kept insisting that he stay a while longer and have tea. With difficulty, Nelson extricated himself from that situation and came over to our place, as originally intended and told the story to me.

In the evening, when all of us met at the park, I was stunned to learn that Chandru had not told anything about this adventure to Vimlu. I was furious with him for letting in someone unknown to him and Chandru simply could not understand my anger. I had to explain, that it could have been any one with malafide intentions and Chandru could have been harmed. In his defense, Chandru insisted that he was a good judge of character and saw a well dressed gentleman and let him in without asking him about who he was and who the visitor wanted to see. Had he done so, he would have come to know immediately that the caller was for Ranjan and could have directed him to the right place. Vimlu too was upset and agreed with me.

More embarrassed was poor Nelson who did not quite know how to explain his gaffe. He had been to Goa on holiday and had brought some goodies from there for Ranjan. He was in a hurry to get to work in the morning and made the mistake of entering the wrong building.

Chandru has a heart of gold. All of us know that. He cannot however be so cavalier about letting total strangers into his house particularly when he was alone. Chandru still insists after all this while, that he did the right thing, and I disagree. What do you think?

Stories From The Past – 2

I had assured my readers yesterday, that I would share another story from Ahmedabad with them and here it is.

Ahmedabad is the commercial capital of Gujarath, the only state in India with total prohibition of alcohol consumption. There are cumbersome procedures to get a permit from the Excise department to consume alcohol for medicinal purposes, but that is another story.

For visitors from other states without prohibition, there is a facility in most hotels to procure temporary permits to purchase alcohol within the hotel’s premises.

On one of my trips to Ahmedabad, I had obtained such a permit and also purchased a pint of whiskey. Unfortunately for me, during my stay during that trip, I did not have the time or occasion to consume the whiskey and the unopened bottle remained in my overnighter.

On my departure from Ahmedabad airport, I had the overnighter as a carry on baggage and was asked to open it for inspection by the Airport Security Detail of the Gujarath Police stationed there. When the bottle of whiskey was found the policeman took me aside and took me to the senior officer in another room. I explained that I had a valid permit, showed it to him and said that I could not consume the whiskey and was taking it back with me to Bombay. The Inspector accepted that I was not doing anything illegal but said that I could not take the bottle with me. I said that I could not very well drink it there and still make the flight. After much hemming and hawing and looking up the rule book he pleaded his helplessness, but suggested that I check in the overnighter with the whiskey inside to solve the problem of the rules. Checked in luggage were not subject to x-ray inspection those days. I had to go back outside the security area, re check in, explain to the airline staff the problem and check in the luggage and finally made it to the flight.

When I shared this story with some of my more savvy friends, they said that I should have offered to split the bottle half and half with the Inspector, and I would have been allowed to carry it on board!

Stories From The Past.

Last week, I had shared with my readers a story from my Delhi days which came back to revive a friendship after almost three decades. Today, I shall continue with another one from the mid-eighties, which too came back in a most unexpected way.

Some few weeks ago, I came to know about the passing away of Kader from Ahmedabad, for who I had a great deal of respect and affection. He was a customer of the company with which I was working in the eighties and one of the most honest and trustworthy men in a highly competitive field. Kader was highly respected by his customers in turn and in his passing away, one more interesting personality from my active business days had gone to make his peace.

I had known his family too and knowing that his son Jalal was already in the business, I sent a message of condolence to the young man with some references to his late father’s excellent character and reputation. Jalal in turn rang me up to convey his and his family’s gratitude for the most unexpected communication from me.

On the day that I had the meeting with my airport friend from Delhi, when I returned from the supermarket, I received another telephone call from Jalal to just hand over the phone to his family doctor who wanted to share with me his memories of the time that I had an accident in Ahmedabad, The family doctor had to be summoned to attend to me in my hotel, late in the evening. The family doctor was reminiscing about various people that he had met through Kader and he remembered me for that memorable night which was an experience that he had never had earlier nor since then. This is the story about that accident and a retired GP’s memories of that incident.

As Sales Manager, I was visiting customers at Ahmedabad and had checked into a hotel for the night. After checking in, the bellboy before leaving the room after depositing the luggage and turning on the Airconditioner etc, asked me if there was anything else that I required. I said no and sent him on his way with the usual tip.

I took a shower, changed into my off duty dress of lungi and kurtha and started to read a book when there was a knock at the door and the same page boy once again asked me if I wanted any other service. I told him that I would order for food from the room service and did not need anything, thanked him and shut the door.

After a few moments he once again knocked to ask the same question but with a sign language of “do you want to drink something?” Ahmedabad is in the state of Gujarath, the only state in India with prohibition of alcohol consumption in force with a thriving bootlegging trade. I had made my own arrangements and now having understood the keenness of the lad to be of service to me, I declined and sent him off.

After a few moments, the same lad appeared again with a sly grin and was just beginning to ask if I wanted some other service, when I lost my temper and decided to give him a good kick and send him on his way. I did, and the next thing that I remember is being flat out on my knees with a throbbing and bleeding forehead. I had forgotten that I was wearing a lungi, which is a cylindrical garment from waist down to the ankles, and had tripped over while executing the kick, but by some instinct turned around before falling down and hit my forehead on the sharp corner of the door’s latch.

The young man panicked and ran away and I got up to try and stem the bleeding with toilet paper and water but had little success. I rang up Kader and told him that I had cut myself and needed a doctor to come and put in a couple of stitches. He promptly rushed with his family doctor and it was done within the next half an hour. I still carry that scar on my forehead.

The doctor when told about how I came to cut myself like that, laughed his heart out and said that he was glad that he and Kader wore pajamas at home and not lungis. After all these years, he remembered that incident and was reminiscing with Jalal about that evening when Jalal decided to share the story from the doctor himself.

Since then a flood of memories of my visits to that beautiful town, has been visiting me. Ahmedabad is special for me for another reason in that I went to Business School there for two years in the sixties. I have many interesting recollections of those two years too. I may write about some of them later, but my next post will be on a really funny experience that I had there with the security detail at the airport on another occasion.