Catch-22 in Indian Parliament

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Yet another sting operation. Yet another scandal. Yet another set of lawmakers caught on camera greasing their hands.

Yes, it’s the Tehelka-Aaj Tak sting operation that netted a dozen MPs of the Indian parliament cutting across party lines. This time they took money for asking questions in parliament.

This expose was headed by Aniruddha Bahal (yeah the same dude who did the Operation Westend exposing the nexus between defence contractors and politicians, which ended the political career of Bangaru Laxman) with the name Operation Duryodhan. The mission: Catch corrupt MPs on camera taking bribes for asking questions. The expose shocked the nation, and prompted swift suspensions across party lines. The worst affected of the lot was BJP (6 of its MPs were caught on camera) which till yesterday was stalling the Parliament on the Natwar Singh-Volcker issue.

I was leafing through Bahal’s website Cobrapost.com, to get a lowdown on the whole operation. Bahal explains it in details all the way from the meticulous planning, how each of the MPs were approached through middlemen, even the details of the cover his team had (For details on how it began, click here). They were using the cover of the fictitious North Indian Small Manufacturers Association (NISMA) headquartered in Moradabad.

I was particularly interested in knowing if any of the questions submitted by NISMA were asked in the Parliament. They were not, but they entered the Parliament’s system that accepts questions and then shortlists a few to be read out during the Question Hour.

Here is a selection of some of the questions which were actually submitted to the Parliament.

Whether the Railway Ministry has placed any order for purchase of the Yossarian Electro Diesel engine from Germany? Is the ministry aware that the Tom Wolfe committee report in Germany has halted its induction into the Euro Rail system?

I ask Aniruddha Bahal, “Why only Yossarian? Why not Doc Daneeka or Milo Minderbinder or Major Major?”

Whether the Government has given sanction for the seed trial of Salinger Cotton of Monsanto? If so, has a report been prepared on Catch 22 cotton so far?

Has the ministry lifted the 1962 ban it imposed on the book “For whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway and the 1975 ban on Ken Kesey’s book “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest” and Hunter Thomson’s book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”? If so, when were the bans removed?

Bahal could not resist inserting his website’s name somewhere:

Whether the government is aware that a domestic flying license has been denied to Cobra Cargo for starting operations in India? Since when has Semper Sursum Private Limited, the holding company of Cobra Cargo, applied for the domestic cargo license?

And here is Bahal’s tribute to the Indian blogging community:

Is it true that while NRI firms such as India Uncut of USA, Sepia Mutiny of Britain and AnarCap Lib of Netherlands have been allowed to invest in Indian SSIs, the reputed German investment firm Desipundit has been denied permission? If so, the reasons thereof? Is the Union Government of India planning to make automatic the long procedure of permission for SSIs to import new technologies such as Trackbacks, Pingbacks, Blogrolls, Splogs and Hitcounters?

That these questions actually been submitted in the Parliament is in itself mind-boggling. Due to some divine interference, these never made it to the actual shortlist of the questions that are asked during question hour. Otherwise imagine of the blokes standing up in parliament and asking the Minister of Industry (is there one like that?) about Yossarian, Tom Wolfe or Sepia Mutiny? Not that it would mean much to our Parliamentarians in Slumber!

Long Live our democracy and our democratically elected representatives!

A night to remember

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sometimes in life, incidents or experiences which start on a sour note end up becoming nice memories. You get up on the wrong side of the bed, attract all the bad luck for the day, start cursing your stars and life in general, and suddenly out of the blue, something nice happens and the day instead of being a forgettable one, becomes a sweet memory.

I was in Delhi the other day to attend the marriage of my friends Mudit and Neha. The marriage ended at about 11 PM and I was dropped off at the airport by a couple of other friends who were attending the marriage. My flight was at 6:20 AM the next day morning, so I thought I could catch a quick nap in the airport lounge to prepare for day ahead which promised to be hectic. I was at the airport by 12 midnight, assuming they would let me in since I had a valid ticket.

Much to my chagrin and surprise, the security guys refused to let me in citing the rule that check-in is not allowed 2 hours prior to the departure of the plane. It was the start of the dreaded Delhi winter and I was in no mood to spend 5 hours in the cold wintry night. So I requested them to let me in. They were considerate and said that they would let me in if the airline security guys completed my security check. So off I went to the airline rep (Air Deccan), who like any other airline rep listened to my story with great interest and with a condescending smile and almost irritating politeness informed me that the security guys would be at their post only at 3 AM. That was 3 hours away. I repeated my request and asked him to check if it is possible for them to consider my case as it would only be a matter of a few seconds to check me in as I had only cabin baggage. With even more irritating politeness he refused again.

I had no option but go to the airport security personnel to plead my case again with them. To his credit, the guy manning the post at least understood my case and tried to provide solutions. He first asked me to see if I can find other beleaguered travelers so that we would all argue our case with the airline people. IN his words “Bheed jayegi to shayad kaam hoga!” I looked around and to my surprise found 3 other guys who I later learnt went through the same experience of pleading with the airline and security people. So off we went in a group and the airline rep this time responded with a touch of irritability. It was obviously the effects of caffeine and a long night in the office. This time though he tried calling those security guys (at the very least made a pretense of it!) with no luck!

It was the airport security guy again to our rescue who suggested we meet his superiors in the control room. The bunch of blokes sitting around scratching their balls in the control room, listened to our stories with great delight, scratched their beards, creased their foreheads, nodded to each other gravely, agreed with us that it’s cold out there and finally gave us the invaluable suggestion to sit in the line of chairs outside the arrivals block. That was the prospect I was dreading.

We had no fight left in us for the day. So we gave up and plopped ourselves with steaming cups of atrocious tasting instant coffee and waited for the T-Time. It was biting cold, which entered and hit my body through the thick jacket. I remained there hugging myself and cursing everyone from Air Deccan rep to the Lord above who art heaven and ought to be looking after me.

Amazingly, I survived like that till 3 AM, when finally we decided to try our luck again. I just slung my back pack over my shoulder, stretched my numb legs and turned around to see the security guys go into a tizzy. A couple of commandos with AK-47s appeared out of nowhere and took position at the entrance of the arrival block. I thought “Ohh! Here comes another ruddy politician!”

No surprises there! It was infact a ruddy politician, Amar Singh of the Samajwadi Party, the Man Friday of SP supreme Mulayam Singh Yadav. He looked just as bald, round, rotund and jolly as he looks on TV and shaking hands at everyone in sight. Everyone in sight being the dozen security guys. I was about to get on with it when I saw emerging from the entrance a tall, lean guy in kurta pyjamas with a 2 day stubble, hands folded behind his back and a brooding expression on his face. It was Abhishek Bachchan, the Bluff Master who very recently played Bunty, the conman with great élan! I was staring at him when behind him came the man who is considered the God of Bollywood by many Рthe Big B! True to his name (given name), he was big, with his hair neatly parted in the middle (even at such an unholy hour!), with his trademark French beard and walking with the grace and charm that made him the matinee idol of the country.

Amitabh Bachchan is one of the very few film stars in the world that I really idolize and I would be lying if I dint say I watched him with a gaping mouth. Like a true blue moron I forgot the fact that I had a camera within arm’s reach in my backpack. But not as big a moron as my beleaguered co-traveler who forgot the fact that he had a camera cum video phone in his hand.

Now the presence of Amar Singh did not surprise me, as its common knowledge that he and the Big B are fast friends. You could say I could have asked for his (Big B’s … not Amar Singh’s) autograph atleast. Well it took my sleep deprived eyes a few seconds to register the fact that I was seeing a living legend in flesh and blood and he was escorted to his waiting car in a matter of seconds. I could console myself by thinking that the posse of policemen and commandos around him would not have let me anywhere around his royal presence!

We walked back to the airport departure terminal thinking “It wasn’t so bad after all, spending 3 hours in freaking cold!” As I said before what started as a nightmare turned out to be rather pleasant experience! No complaints there! I would sit in the same place again for another 3 hours just to see him walk by again!

Tailpiece: The next day, I read in the papers that the Big B has been admitted in the hospital with an Intestinal problem and after surgery is recuperating in Mumbai. My friend says "Obviously you are bad news to Big B. You took one look at him and his health is messed up. Dont you ever go near him again!"

Encounter with a CEO

Thursday, October 06, 2005

In India, it is said only Movie Stars, Cricketers and Politicians to a lesser extent make celebrities (A certain Tennis star called Sania Mirza got added to the list recently). They can’t afford to step out of their homes alone without fear of being mobbed by autograph junkies or crazy fans. It’s a price they have to pay for their status. Other accomplished people who have achieved great(er) success in their respective fields - businessmen, scientists, and social workers are rarely recognized when they step out for a walk or a trip in the local mall. The reason is simple - the media feeds on the accomplishments (or the lack there of - as was seen in the case of a certain Indian captain recently) of these people, quite simply because that’s what the 'aam junta' (common people) want to read.

One would be more interested in reading about the latest movie of an actor or the item song of an actress or the exploits of a cricketer rather than the latest acquisition strategy of an industrialist or discovery of a scientist. This is a sort of symbiotic relationship between the media and the masses. While the media lives on the capacity of the masses to consume 'digestible' infotainment, the masses rely on the media to bring them such 'food for entertainment'. The result - politicians get to the front pages of the paper (and opening stories of a news capsule); movie stars and cricketers find themselves on the back pages while the rest are sandwiched somewhere in between, which are the less visited middle pages.

This is why I always wondered - how would people react if they saw a successful businessman or a scientist on the street. Would they recognize him/her in the first place? A chance to see the reaction first hand occurred recently. Couple of weeks back, I was catching up with a couple of my school friends at The Forum, a swanky new mall in Bangalore. We exchanged stories of our batch mates, pulled one another’s legs and my friends departed after a couple of hours. Having said goodbye to them, I went for my weekend time pass jaunt at Landmark, a huge Bookstore in the same mall. I enjoy losing myself in the world of books for a couple of hours, without a care in the world.

I finished browsing through a book on cricket and kept it back in the shelf and turned around to go to the next section when I saw a middle aged gentleman looking intently at the titles of some latest releases. I realised it was none other than Nandan Nilekani, the CEO and co-founder of Infosys, one of the biggest IT companies in the world. He was slightly stout (more than he seems in TV or in the papers), taller than I thought and had a pleasant look on his face. And he seemed to be alone and was not bothered by anyone around. Worse (or better, for him?) no one seemed to notice him or recognize him. I stalled for a second, not sure if I should disturb him. But my excitement soon took care of that dilemma. I walked up to him, extended my hand and said "Mr. Nilekani, its a pleasure to meet you" A smile lit up his face and he took my hand immediately, covered it in a firm grip and said "Its the same here".

I think I spoke a little loud, because when I said "Mr. Nilekani" people around me looked up from their books and saw who it was. I was saying "I would have loved to take your autograph, but I do not have a pen" when he was mobbed by about half a dozen guys my age. I realised they were all IT professionals like me. They were all taking autographs from him on address books and pieces of paper. A thought hit me. I fished out my visiting card, borrowed a pen from someone and said "Mr. Nilekani, I work in Wipro. I hope you don’t mind signing at the back of my Wipro visiting card". (Wipro and Infosys are business rivals and competitors in the IT field)

He immediately took it with a laugh, said "Of course no. Not at all" and proceeded to sign it with a flourish. I shook hands with him once again and thanked him profusely and went away to watch from a distance. The commotion was over in a matter of seconds and he was alone again wandering in the bookstore.

Would the reaction have been the same had it been a lesser-known cricketer or a movie star? Of course not. But does not the CEO of one of India's most successful and respected companies, a man partly responsible for making India the Offshoring destination of the world, deserve much more recognition? I would say Yes, but I think I know what Mr. Nilekani himself would say. I think he would much rather prefer wandering blissfully in a bookstore without being bothered by autograph junkies. I am sure he would. That expression on his face told me.

Dream come True?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It was our family pilgrimage to Tirupati - abode of Lord Venkateswara (or Balaji) the Lord of Seven Hills. For the uninitiated, Lord Balaji is an 'Avatar' (Incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, one of Hinduism’s Trinity. Lord Balaji is the most visited God in India and apparently Tirupati is the second most visited holy place on the Earth after The Vatican with Annual Visitors close to 20 million (works out to an average of 60000 per day). He is also said to be the Richest God in the world with annual offerings from pilgrims touching a whopping Rs 300 Crore ($ 66 mn) per year. The actual temple is in the top of a hill (rather a string of seven hills, thereby earning Lord Balaji the name Lord of Seven Hills) called Tirumala, which can be reached by long and winding Ghat Roads from the town of Tirupati.

On the morning we arrived, my Dad said he had a strange dream overnight in the train. He saw Lord Balaji in his dream (this on its own is nothing great - Indians regularly see their favourite Gods and Goddesses in dreams!), with the same dark Idol, huge 'Namam' (Large Mark in the shape of U) on the face and the body adorn with glittering jewels and fresh flowers. But he said the similarity with the 'vigraham' (Idol) in the Sanctum Santorum of the temple in Tirumala ended there.

For one, the figure he saw in his dream was much bigger than the one in Tirulmala and one had to walk up a small ramp to get to the sanctum sanctorum. The sanctum sanctorum was also filled with bright light from large floodlights, unlike the normal practice of Oil-lamp lit sanctum sanctorums. He being a deeply religious person attributed some great meaning to it though he could not quite figure out what it meant. My Mom, no less religious was also awed by the whole thing. I being slightly less devout and more rational, saw it as just another dream. I thought, just as I dream of my favourite heroines, my Dad dreamt of his favourite God.

We had our 'Darshan' (translated literally means 'seeing', attributed to seeing the Deity in a temple) after standing for 2 hours in the queue, which is less compared to the normal standards. I should hasten to add here that the actual 'Darshan' itself lasted not more than 5 seconds. Given the huge rush, you are literally pushed along the queue by guards manning the queues. It is normally advised that while seeing the Lord in Tirumala one should not close one's eyes (as the practice generally is with Hindus, who bow and close their eyes in prayer in front of God) lest you miss seeing him in those crucial few seconds.

Anyway, we spent the rest of the day touring other smaller temples in the temple town of Tirupati and retired for the day. The plan was to visit a nearby pilgrim centre known as ‘Kanipakam’, which houses Lord Vinayaka (or Ganesha, the elephant headed God and son of Lord Shiva, second of the Holy Trinity). This place has special religious significance, as its widely believed that the Idol at this place is a 'Swayambhu' idol (Self manifested). Let me explain. Normally, idols are consecrated in temples, which means someone makes the idols and they are placed in the temple amidst great pomp and fanfare. However there are a clutch of temples have that have legends, which claim self-manifested idols. This means that the idol was not placed there by someone, rather it manifested itself there on its own. The idol of Lord Vinayaka is one such self-manifested idol, believed to have emerged from a well.

We completed our darshan at Kanipakam, andwere returning to Tirupati in a taxi. We got into chatting with the taxi driver who like a true blue taxi driver, was offering his quips on local politics, the administration in Tirupati and life in general. He also got to mention some lesser-known temples in the region, which he said were no less magnificent than the other famous ones. He mentioned one such temple, called Srinivasa Mangapuram, where again the presiding deity is Lord Balaji (Srinivasa is another of his many names). We had never heard of the place before, but having nothing else to do, we asked him to take us there.

It was mid-afternoon, around 2:30 PM, and it was a sweltering hot day (as usual). We had to literally run into the shade to avoid getting our bare feet burnt on the cobblestones of the temple courtyard. My father was the first in the line and as soon as he turned the corner and came face to face with the idol he suddenly stopped and let out a loud gasp. He stood transfixed there for a moment. We hadn't turned the corner yet, we couldn’t quite get what led him to be so mesmerised. He looked at us and slowly walked in.

As I turned the corner, I slowly realised why my Dad was so amazed. The scene in front of me was exactly like the one my Dad saw in his dream. The idol was tall (taller than the one in Tirupati) and dark, the sanctum sanctorum was filled with bright light from floodlights and leading up to it was a ramp. If I, who heard the dream from my father could be so amazed, I could only imagine what my father felt having actually had that dream.

As my father remarked later, the best part of the visit wasn’t the visit to Tirupati (which was itself great), but it was the visit to the little known Srinivasa Mangapuram, which made the day for us.

The Sari Sale - Return of the Cons

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Continued from 'The Sari Sale - Twist in the Tale'

I am still shaking my head thinking back to it, when, from the corner of the eye I think I spot someone familiar. He is about 100 metres from me. From where I sit, I cant see him clearly, but I remember the ridiculous shirt he was wearing. Its not C, rather its UG, with C's bag of sarees!

I cant believe my eyes. Just 10 minutes earlier they were trying to con me, albeit unsuccessfully. And they were now back in action, barely 100 metres from the same place, trying to con another Poor Sod (PS). The only difference this time is that, UG and C have interchanged their roles.

UG is the one with the Sarees while C is standing by the side examining them, I am sure telling the PS the same or similar story about a saree shop in Vijayawada. I am sure now its C who is lecturing UG about the different types of sarees. Curiosity gets the better of me and I move stealthily towards them without their noticing and sit with my back to them, although I can look at whats happening behind me just by turning my head slightly. I can hear them clearly enough even in the chaos the of bus station.

I can now predict the rest of the plot. Sure enough, P appears and dishes out the dialogues like a seasoned pro. Its deja vu, except that its happening to someone else. At this stage I am thoroughly angry at their duplicity and more over their audacity to give an encore at the very same place. I start thinking of saving the PS by shouting that they are conmen.

Suddenly, P walks away from the scene and stands by the side of what appears to be the real life version of a movie thug (MT). MT is tall, broad shouldered and seems to be looks for trouble. P appears to be giving the MT an update of the latest Act. Apparantly satisfied, MT smiles and nods to someone else in the crowd. I follow his gaze and see another equally menacing toughie. One look at both, and I am already searching for my bus. I had enough fun for the day and dont want to end up as a mincemeat. The fact that I am 5'5" doesnt help matters either. I chicken out and board my bus which has arrived just then, silently wishing goodluck to the PS.

From the window of the bus, I see PS happily parting with his hard earned cash. In return he gets one of the 'Kanjeevarams', which I am sure he has bought to surprise his loving wife or kid sister or ageing mom. Initially I am angry at him for falling for such a con, but I cudnt help but feel sorry for the PS. By his appearance he looks like an innocent fellow and not much educated either. The lions have picked their target well. The last I see of the cons is them walking away in a group and fading into the crowds. No doubt to regroup and start their game all over again.

Should I have been braver? Was I right in thinking discretion is the better part of valour? Should I have gone to the police? I do not know! I satisfy myself thinking that what I witnessed in the past hour or so is part of a day's work for those men. And the presence of the toughies indicates they are well prepared to wiggle themselves out of tricky situations. Even if I had saved PS from their clutches, and risked getting hurt, they would probably have picked some other Hapless Soul. I am sure of one thing - They are 'professional' enough to sell all the sarees and share the spoils and make a cool 20000 each in a single day!

Concluded

Post Script: This is not a fictional acount. This was a real life experience for me at the Bangalore Bus Station. The whole conversation took place in Telugu, which isnt surprising given the number of people in Bangalore who know Telugu. I tried to recreate the whole by translating into English.

The Sari Sale - Twist in the Tale

Monday, August 22, 2005

Continued from 'The Sari Sale - Kanjeevarams at a Discount'

UG: A 15000 Rs worth saree at 10000. It’s a terrific deal. But lets get it down further. Leave it to me. Hey C, say how about giving this for 5000?
C : If you want to play jokes, pick someone else. I wont sell this for a paisa less than 10000.

Saying that C starts to leave...
UG: Hey wait! Whats the hurry? OK! I've got a deal for you. Why dont you come with me to Vijayawada. I'll buy all the sarees from you and I'll pay you in cash.
C : No way! I aint coming to any place! If you want to buy, pay cash here and buy the sarees here.

UG tries to convince C but C is unmoved. UG now turns to me.
UG to me: Sir, I think he would sell at less than 10000 if both of us buy from him. Say are you interested?
Me: No, sorry! I dont have any money.
UG: Not even 5000. I have slightly more than 5000.
He shows me some cash from his pocket.
UG: But if only I buy, I dont think he will sell at less than 10000.
Me: Sorry, as I said earlier I dont have any moeny. Besides, even if I had what would I do with Kanjeevarams?
UG: You can gift them to your wife! If you are not married, you can give them to your mother or sister or cousin or anyone!
Me: No!

Meanwhile while myself and UG are eying the sarees, a Passerby (P) passes by us, glances at us, the sarees and says "Are those zari sarees? Are you selling sir?"
UG: No! That Character over there is selling. He says this is original stuff.
P : I am a gold smith! I can tell if its fake or original just by touch.
P feels the zari border with his hands. He then removes his ring from his finger and rubs it on the zari border.

And with an incredulous look on his face says "This stuff looks like genuine. The border is purev GOLD! We bought some of them for our niece's marriage recently. Each one for 13500. How much is he quoting?"
UG: He started with 12000 and is now down to 10000. I asked him to sell at 5000 but he refused.
P : Its a once in a life time opportunity. Sir do you have any money? If we can get him to sell even at 7500, it would be a great deal for us. Look I am interested in buying. Are you?
UG: Heck I am! But I dont have enough money. I own a saree shop in Vijayawada. I came to buy sarees here and I am out of cash.I was just telling this gentleman over here that C would sell at much lesser price if we buy together, but he says he has no money.
P : Ohh! I dont want to in involved in your affairs, but you have my word, the word of a gold smith, that this stuff is genuine.

All this while I was slighly bemused by the whole affair, but the arrival of P seemed too much of a coincidence to me. I politely rejected the offer yet again but my curiosity got the better of me, my bus hadnt arrived, and I had time to kill. So I lingered on.
P : Sir where are you going?
Me: Hyderabad.
P : Ohh! I am also going to Hyderabad. Is this the 10 PM Volvo?
Me: Yeah
P : Great. I am also catching the same bus. Look, I have only 500 with me. And I am very interested in this stuff. I can understand that you dont want to buy it. Fair enough. But if you have some cash, could you please lend it to me? I will return as soon as we return to Hyderabad. I stay in Secunderabad close to the Railway Station.

I am already shaking my head.
P : Look, I know you find it hard to lend money to strangers. But you can trust me on this. Besides if you feel uncomfortable to come to my house in Hyderabad, I have a solution. I will call my brother right now and I will ask him to get the money straight to the Bus Station. As soon as we get down I will pay you the cash.
Me: I would have done that if I had any money on me. Unfortunately I dont have anything.
P : Thats really sad. It was such a deal! Now I am not so sure C would sell one saree for 5000. Anyway lets try.

P and UG call C and haggle with him over the price. C is unmoved and they give up. C picks up his stuff and disappears into the teeming crowds.
P : He isnt coming down from his lofty perch, the idiot. Like this he wont sell many sarees. Are you sure you have made up your mind? I cant believe you are letting such a golden opportunity pass by. Anyway, I have to take leave now.

Saying that he leaves. No mention of the 10 PM Volvo both of us are supposed to take.
UG : I must also leave now.
Me : I will come to your shop in Vijayawada sometime.
UG : Definitely!

I am now left alone. My bus hasnt arrived yet. Sitting down, I chuckle to myself! What a bunch of cons! I pat myself on the back for not falling for their con job. Thinking back I dont realise when I first got the doubt. Definitely not when C approached me. Not when UG chatted up with me. Probably when UG said both of us would buy and C would give a discount. But it was reinforced when P butted in. Now that was too much of a coincidence!

A case of too many cooks spoiling the broth? Rather, a case of too many cons spoiling the job!

It started with a bang, but ended with a whimper. Once they realised I wasnt going to part with my money, they quickly wound up the game and scattered. Its about 15 minutes since C, UG and P departed. I am still shaking my head thinking back to it, when, from the corner of the eye I think I spot someone familiar. He is about 100 metres from me. From where I sit, I cant see him clearly, but I remember the ridiculous shirt he was wearing. Its not C, rather its UG, with C's bag of sarees!

To Be Continued....

The Sari Sale - Kanjeevarams at a Discount

How would you react if a character accosts you in a crowded place like a Bus Station and asks if you would buy a Rs. 15,000 worth Kanjeevaram Saree for Rs. 10,000?

I got such an offer while I was waiting for my bus to Hyderabad at the Bangalore Bus Station. This Character stood silently by my side and whispered the offer, in Telugu. Kanjeevarams are the last thing on your mind at a crowded and noisy bus station. Since I heard it in my own language, I smiled at him and politely turned down the offer. Character shrugged it off and waylaid another unsuspecting guy. Unsuspecting Guy looked at Character and said, in Telugu again something to this effect " Why would a saree shop owner need to buy sarees from a Character in a bus station, of all places?" and told the Character to get lost.
Unsuspecting Guy (UG) then turned to me and and asked me if I was from Andhra.

Me: Yes
UG: Look at his audacity, trying to sell sarees to me.
Me: Hmm
UG: I sell a thousand sarees a month and he thinks he can trick me. The *&#^&
Me: Huh!
UG: So, where are you from?
Me: Vijayawada
UG: Ohh, I am also from Vijayawada. I own a saree shop there. Where do you stay in Vijayawada?
Me: Near Maris Stella College. What about you?
UG: I stay close to Besant Road. We have a shop on Besant Road - Vijayalakshmi Cloth Stores. It’s directly below 'Thummidi Brothers'

(Besant Road is the commercial hub of Vijayawada and 'Thummidi Brothers' is a famous shop for sarees and other dress materials on Besant Road)
Me: Ohh. Then I must've surely visited your shop sometime.
UG: Yeah, you must have. We do a roaring business. I come regularly to Bangalore to buy Sarees. Say, why don’t we take a look at Character's sarees. What’s the harm in taking a look? (The Character was just passing by again)
I shrug!

UG: Yo, Character (C) over there. Come here. Show us what you got.
C : Sir, lets go to the corner. I don’t want everyone peeking at my stuff.

He leads the way to a corner.
UG to me: Look at him being so careful. I bet he looted that stuff from someplace.
C : Sir, Look at these. 100% original Kanjeevaram. Kanchi Pattu Sarees. You will get them outside for not less than 15000.

UG by now is busy opening the bag and sizing them up like a thorough professional. He scratches the 'zari border' of one of them.
C : Careful sir, don’t scratch'em like that. You will ruin my sarees.

UG is thoroughly angry.
UG: Shut up. Don’t you go teaching me how to handle sarees. I own a saree shop. A thousand such things pass through my hands everyday. Should I tell you the types of sarees. Kanchi, Arani, Dharmavaram, Benaras, KothaKota, Gwalior ........

He proceeded to give a short lecture to C on the various types of sarees. C is thoroughly miffed at the sudden outburst of anger and knowledge from UG. He apologises profusely and asks UG to handle them the way he likes.

UG is now talking to me.
UG: Sir, between us, this stuff is HOT. This is original, take my word. This Character has looted this stuff from somewhere. Damn! I don’t have any money to buy this stuff. I spent it all on buying sarees from the wholesalers here. What price did he quote you anyway?
Me: Uhh..10,000.
UG: A 15000 Rs worth saree at 10000. It’s a terrific deal. But lets get it down further. Leave it to me. Hey C, say how about giving this for 5000?

To be Continued....

Da Fursst One!

Benched, in between projects, thoroughly bored and bamboozled by Life and my boss, I was browsing through my friend RajK's blog when I thought "Heck! Even I can do this. Just sign up, post some bull and you will have unsuspecting websailors landing on your blog island". So here I am. Now that I have arrived I intend to shake the Big Blog World!