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!


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!