Tuesday, May 25, 2010

“Beware of Pickpockets in the train and station areas.”

“Beware of Pickpockets in the train and station areas.” How many times have I heard this woman’s voice with an English accent while taking the metro? Well at least enough times to be aware, but not really.

Another Monday (May 24, 2010) going to the dentist. It seems that my US fillings are all starting to have cracks in India, part of that may be the heavy diet leaning towards sugar and my craving for sweets. I don’t eat a lot of candy, but the chai, and everything else has enough sugar to make one’s teeth ache.

This morning after my walk, I took the bus and paid my five rupees out of a ten rupee note and put my wallet back into my cargo pants, in the lower pocket. I thought I should button this up, but since I usually don’t I didn’t.

I got onto the metro, took my usual 12 stops and went to the office, dropped off my laptop, saw that the Dodgers and Lakers had lost, and went back to the metro to go the dentist in Hauz Kaus. The metro was very crowded when I got on, given that it was 10 AM, prime rush hour. I didn’t take much notice, squeezed on and got off at Central Secretariat. I then boarded a rickshaw. The excitement began when we got to the dentist and as I reached for my wallet it wasn’t there! I’m sure that the rickshaw driver thought that I was crazy as I started feeling and looking around everywhere.
OK, so I had 5 rupees in my pocket and no wallet. I walked into the dentist and asked to borrow 60 rupees, which she gladly gave me and proceeded to make some calls, to my office, can I get an advance, please cancel my bank card, to VSO, they offered to give me an advance.

People were very helpful and then I walked into the dental lair where she proceeded to take out two fillings, one with novocaine and one without. (My teeth on the left side of my mouth have been filling the extreme coldness that a popsicle brings) As the drilling commenced I thought about the movie the Marathon Man and how Dustin Hoffman fared without any anesthesia. I felt a bit feint in the dental seat, so we stopped for a moment and then we cemented the relationship. I’ll be back on June 21 to put in the final bit of silver.

The day went on, I felt pretty down, plus there were the usual things that happen in any office, but they were made more difficult by how I was feeling.

After work I went and reported the loss to the Metro Manager at Karol Bagh who told me to see the Metro Police at Raja Garden. I was told that they were in back of the metro station behind a parking lot. There is a large sign indicating the Metro Police but as I walked straight all that I saw were a group of young men and a large mess area. They told me to go to my left. I walked into the metro police, a room with a number of men, none in any kind of uniforms. I told them my story and they said you must write it down.

They gave me two pieces of paper, inserted a carbon in between and stuck it all together with some pins, so that it wouldn’t all blow away due to the fans. There was no pen in sight and they went to find one. I wrote one page, then we flipped over the paper and carbon and I wrote the second page. After reading my statement the officer told me that I should rewrite this. They went off to find some more paper and I abbreviated my thoughts. They gave me some chai and told me to come back tomorrow, to pick up a typed copy, which I have done. There was only one typo, not bad.

Yes, I lost money, rupees, dollars, credit and bank cards, rupees that I had saved from 2006 the last time that I was in India, pictures.

It’s very disheartening, when I think about the reasons as to why I came to India and what I’m doing. I know that there are people who are desperate, less well off, and this is framed for me every day that I’m here. I also know that I stand out on some level maybe I’m targeted by people in both positive and negative ways.

The phrase “what to do” comes into play at times like this. Things can be very frustrating and this is one of those times when I’m feeling this. Often I’m able to shrug things off, but right now, I’m not able to. The cultural differences stand out for me and that becomes difficult. I know that I’ll get over it, but for now, it’s not that easy.

8 comments:

len y. manikan said...

what to do. you got my sympathy at the least. sigh

SM said...

Ah, I can imagine.. happened to me a few times.. but it was the crowded bus in Kolkata and I cursed my luck multiple times.. My sympathies are with you buddy!

themediator said...

Hi Michael, Sorry to hear about your experiance. My thoughts are with you. Be well.

Lori Escalera said...

So sorry to hear about the dental work more than than the theft! Maybe the good news is that your dental work is going to be affordable in India compared to being in the states. My work cost $30,000. (BTW, all your fillings get weak about 25 years and should be replaced).
Mike - that theft could happen on any metro. And any violation of possessions is disheartening! As soon as everything is replaced you will feel much better.
And don't forget 'to watch your valuables" My mom used to tell me "zipper your purse!" everytime she'd see me. ;-) Its nice that you are in a place where people have the care to say something to you! That part is so sweet!

James McRitchie said...

At least you still have your laptop and now know to always button your pocket... I keep my wallet in front pocket. What a bummer... and to such a nice guy. Why couldn't they pick the pocket of a jerk?

Epistle said...

Sorry this happened to such a decent guy..... feel really bad.

Sheila said...

Mike sorry to hear about your dental work and your pickpocket experience. Not very nice wherever it happens. It is quite an invasion of ones space never mind the actual losss of money and sentimental thinsg one carries around. One good thing about Indian women's attire in this respect is there are no pockets (I hate there not being any I always want ot put soemthing in one), none ina sari, none is either part of a shalwar kameez. Although it drives me mad mostly it does mean that I wear money belt when out and about, and being a women I've never been touched up that intimately here in India so thus far so good. Good luck with the next round of dental work And it was nice that people helped you out with a loan :)

Mark Takefman said...

Mike Mike Mike, here's what to do: put your wallet in your pocket and then put the basket ball in. Not the other way around as you've been doing.
What a bummer. I went through a similar experience when my cell phone was stolen on the Metro.