Fleeced...

Have you ever been duped? 

Know the feeling of being duped? Ask me, I know. Happened to me many moons ago yet it makes me miserable even today. Realizing it was because of me that my dad got fleeced for hundreds of rupees. There is no excuse, it was all my doing! 

Here is what happened -- While exploring the valleys of Panchgani, more specifically the table mountain, we came across many interesting people. Now all of these people claimed to be gifted, yet-to-be-discovered face readers and therefore, were offering their services for a mere 10-20 bucks. Such talent always catches one's attention and it surely caught mine! So mom and I, between catching up on sightseeing, saving our food from the monekys [too many of them there! One of them wouldn't let go of the Bisleri bottle my sister had. Finally we had to relent and that chap actually broke open the seal and drank water like it had paid for it!], we met  this mahan baba type man. 

Modestly dressed in dhoti-kurta with rudraksh beads hanging around his neck, he looked his part, i.e., a good baba who could predict one's future by just reading their faces. Or so we thought! So on a whim I decided I wanted to get my face read!

Now this god-man started talking about me. He was right about my relationship and my impending marriage. He said many more nice things which made my mom, dad and aunt beam. So the game continued. He spoke about my sister next, said accurate things about her as well. My cousin was next in line, my mom, my aunt and even my dad. 

He was right about everyone, making us happy which meant that he was successful in gaining our confidence. In the recent past my sister had suffered from a prolonged illness and my parents were deeply troubled about it. So that was the weak point this man had managed to touch. He started talking about the various possibilities through which the curse/evil eye could be lifted off my sister and she would regain health. 

Parents, however smart, are gullible to such things. So playing his cards correctly, the man subtly asked my father to talk to him privately. He finished reading everyone's face and then took my father aside. They spoke for some fifteen minutes after which my dad was really quiet. 

Next my aunt wanted some private predictions as well so she insisted the baba help her out too. More than happy to have bagged another idiot, he took her aside and began pfaffing about something. But this time round my cousin decided to go along. Now here is where my brother realized that this chap was just pulling wool over our eyes. Sure he had some talent but more than that he was just trying to get a lot of money out of us. 

People like my aunt are most gullible. These crooks start talking about people close to them and then start spinning their web. So tightly knit is this web that one doesn't realize when one is asked to part with large sums of money. Fortunately my brother stopped my aunt from giving out two thousand rupees and they set the baba off with Rs 200 instead. 

But my dad was not spared. Dad was quiet the whole day. He posed for pictures and participated in shopping but hardly said much. Soon we left for Mahabaleshwar where we were staying for the rest of the trip. We shopped in the evening too, continuously discussing the predictions and seemed happy on the whole.

Back at the resort, my aunt and mom started discussing money. What had been bought, where from and for how much. Fussing over calculations had begun and soon they found a glitch.They couldn't place a few hundreds so they asked dad. My poor father had gaged by now that he had been fleeced so he confessed that he had paid the baba an additional Rs 1500! 

The room went quiet for a few seconds. My brother was the first one to start talking, "The bloody bastard...he asked mom for a large sometoo!" And then a barrage of expletives followed...

Manu: "What the...[stopped in time to swallow the 'F' word else would have to bear my mother's wrath!]"

Aunt: "Badmaish! Saala..." [interesting stuff in Bengali]

Mom was flabbergasted. I say this because 'aghast' would be over dramatic here. And as you may have noticed, all this while I wasn't in the scene. That is because I was busy talking to my man on the phone outside [serious network issues in the hills!]. 

A few seconds later I entered a quiet room [the usual banter was missing but I just mistook that for a long day instead] with my sister looking funnily at me. No one was telling me why I was getting the weird looks. I did not question much and went towards my room. By now my aunt had had enough and could not contain herself anymore. 

Aunt: "Nikki...we have been robbed!"

Me: Giving the clueless expression "Huh?"

What followed next was a garble of many sentences in Hindi and Bengali but nothing was said by me. I was too embarrassed to give an opinion. Bah. 

So the mahan/dhongi baba got away with 1700 bucks in all...




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